Category Archives: Water Quality

Water quality information including testing by DLWID

Algae woes trigger action against EPA

By PEGGY MCALOON
For The Dunn County News

Concerns about the effects of toxic blue green algae have caused a number of clean water advocacy groups — mostly from Wisconsin — to file a civil action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the notice letter to the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, “Every summer, Wisconsin communities and tourism-related businesses cope with the detrimental effects of nutrient pollution, ranging from foul, smelly water to health threats, such as toxic algae and contaminated drinking water, and from nuisance algae blooms to fish kills and beach closures. Due to increasing nutrient concentrations in Wisconsin’s waters, the frequency and duration of toxic algal blooms has severely increased over the past decade.”

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a special provision allows citizens to file a civil action in federal court for failure of the administrator of the EPA to perform duties imposed by the act. Continue reading

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Recreational Exposure to Freshwater Cyanobacteria

The School of Population Health, The University of Queensland undertook a study of the Recreational Exposure to Freshwater Cyanobacteria. The aim of this project was to enhance the understanding of public health issues relating to recreational exposure to cyanobacteria by conducting epidemiological and laboratory-based toxicology studies.  The study produced 418 pages of detailed information.

A prospective cohort study of 1,331 recreational water users was conducted at various sites in southern Queensland, the Myall Lakes area of New South Wales, and central Florida. The study design sought to make improvements over previously published epidemiological studies, in that an unexposed group was recruited from cyanobacteria-free waters, cyanobacterial toxins were measured in site water samples, and respondents were asked to rate the severity of reported symptoms. This study has shown an increased likelihood of symptom reporting amongst bathers exposed to high cyanobacterial cell density (measured by total cell surface area) compared to those exposed to low cyanobacteria-affected waters. Mild respiratory symptoms appear to be the predominant symptom category.

This is a very comprehensive study you can review the entire document at http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv/UQ:9880/is_thesis_mar06.pdf

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Legislation Introduced to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

Senator Russ Feingold cosponsored legislation to investigate ways to curb harmful blue-green algal blooms. The legislation, entitled the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009 (S. 952), was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe and would provide competitive grants to groups to research the problem and come up with solutions.  Read the full text of the bill.

On the House side Representative Brian Baird introduced October 7, 2009 the H.R.3650 which has provision impacting the studies in to be performed in the Pacific Northwest.  Read the full text of the bill.

Bill Summary S.952

Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009 – Amends the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998 to require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to establish criteria for determining which states should serve on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia and to implement a nominations process to select representatives for such Task Force. Continue reading

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EPA, Florida Agree to Limit Fertilizer, Animal Waste in State Waters

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, November 17, 2009 (ENS) – In a decision with national relevance, a federal judge in Tallahassee Monday approved a consent decree that requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits on excess nutrients that trigger harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

The EPA agreed to establish numeric water quality criteria for Florida’ lakes and flowing waters by January 14, 2010. The agency has until January 14, 2011, to establish numeric water quality criteria for Florida’s coastal and estuarine waters. The consent decree allows the state to set numeric criteria before these dates as long as they are approved by the EPA.

This green slime on Christopher Point Creek, a St. Johns River tributary, is an algae bloom fueled by excess nutrients. (Photo by Chris Williams courtesy GreenWater Laboratories/CyanoLab)

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by five environmental groups seeking to compel the federal government to set water quality standards for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in public waters.

In July 2008, the public interest law firm Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John’s Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club.

The suit challenged an unacceptable decade-long delay by the state and federal governments in setting limits for nutrient pollution.

Speaking from the bench Monday after hearing oral arguments in the case, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the delay was a matter of serious concern.

In August, the U.S. EPA signed a consent decree, agreeing to set legal limits for nutrients in Florida waters.

But Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services filed a motion to intervene in the case on the polluters’ side.

In his approval of the consent decree, Judge Hinkle rejected the arguments made by polluters who sought to delay cleanup and get out of complying with the Clean Water Act. Continue reading

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AQMD Issues Violation To Local Water District

The Mission Viejo Dispatch recently referenced the comments of Joel Bleth, President of Solarbees,  posted on the No Solarbee website on November 9, related to the water problems on Oso Reservoir.   The entire article is posted as follows.

by MissionViejoDispatch.com on November 19, 2009

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the Santa Margarita Water District on November 11 for causing a public nuisance as a result of the numerous complaints received due to odors from Oso Reservoir.

In a 6-page report dated yesterday, the AQMD reviewed its findings regarding the odor and the remediation efforts taken by the Water District.  Many residents contacted the AQMD.  Complaints included the odor and related coughs, throat irritation, asthma episodes and other symptoms during the period from October 28. Although recognizing the presence of sulphur compounds, including hydrogen sulfides, the report categorized health effects as “temporary:” 

Based on ambient air sampling and analysis done in the residential and commercial areas, AQMD believes that although the type and concentration of odorous compounds released from the Reservoir have caused the residents around the Reservoir some discomfort, irritation, nuisance and other temporary symptoms, the health effects should be of a transient or temporary nature and are not considered alarming or a long-term health concern.

Last week the general manager of the Santa Margarita District, John Schatz, told the Dispatch there was concern that new equipment installed in March 2008 may have contributed to problem.  Four “Solarbees” were placed in the water then for aeration, and the District wants to investigate whether they contributed to a water quality problem at the bottom of the reservoir.  A letter from the President of Solarbees, Joel Bleth, posted the Company’s view of the Oso situation on the No Solarbee website on November 9: Continue reading

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Blue Water Satellite Measures Water Quality From Space

It is now possible to detect a variety of pollutants in drinking and recreational bodies of water from satellite at a fraction of the cost of land based measurements.  The advantage of this technology is the ability to observe the distribution of pollutants such as E. Coli, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, phosphorus run-off throughout bodies of water as small as Devils Lake.  The Sentinel-Tribune Newspaper reported on a Bowling Green company that has pioneered this state-of-the-art service (see article below).  For an example Reservoir Report from Blue Water Satellite, Inc. – click here

Raw Satellite Image - Lake Erie

Cyanobacteria Scan - Lake Erie

Published : Thursday, 12 Nov 2009, 9:28 PM ES
By JENISE FOUTS Sentinel Staff Writer

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – A Bowling Green business, still in its infancy, has melded state-of-the-art technology from Bowling Green State University with an Ignite grant from the Regional Growth Partnership’s Rocket Venture program to become a successful global enterprise in only nine months.

Blue Water Satellite Inc. uses two U.S. government Landsat satellites, plus patented and patent-pending algorithms, to detect a variety of pollutants in drinking and recreational bodies of water in Ohio, across the U.S. and around the world. The science is done at a fraction of the cost, and is more accurate, than samplings taken by someone in a boat. Continue reading

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Identifying the Source of Unknown Microcystin Genes in Cyanobacterial Cells

Microcystin-producing cyanobacteria are common nuisance organisms in harmful algal blooms in freshwaters around the world. This ground breaking work lead by the Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee provides a detailed analysis of the genetic diversity within microcystin producing cyanobacteria.   Molecular tools offer an advantage over more traditional chemical measures of toxin concentration, as they may serve as a predictor of potential bloom events to come (while toxin measurements suggest that the event, and potential exposures, have already occurred).

To read the full read the abstract published by the American Society of Microbiology, follow this link – “Identifying the Source of Unknown Microcystin Genes and Predicting Microcystin Variants by Comparing Genes within Uncultured Cyanobacterial Cells

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Algae Stink No Health Risk In Oso Reservoir

In June of 2008 the Santa Margarita Water District replaced a bubbler aeration system with four SolarBees on Oso Reservoir in Mission Viejo Califorina. The OC Register reported on November 2, 2009 that a “foul odor sniffed by residents of Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita since Wednesday”… “The stench is the result of an algae bloom in the Upper Oso Reservoir sparked by Wednesday’s cold weather and high winds, said Dan Ferons, chief engineer for the water district.”

OSO Bloom

Dead fish line the shore of the the Upper Oso Reservoir - LEONARD ORTIZ, THE ORANGE COUNTY

The water district has taken several steps to bring oxygen levels back to normal and eliminate the odor. Mechanical aeration equipment has been used since Friday to pump air to the bottom of the reservoir. Four solar-powered pumps known as SolarBees have continued to aerate the water.

On Saturday, the water district started pumping fresh water into the lake at the rate of 200 gallons per minute; today, the rate was increased to 1,500 gallons per minute. Two boats were being used today to generate waves in order to spur oxygen intake at the surface. An external pump was also being used today to aerate the water. The water district is also considering use of a mechanical device to pump ozone, whose molecules include three atoms of oxygen, into the lake.

For more information visit the orginal articles in the OC Register.

Algae stink no health risk for south O.C., official says

New solar technology keeps water clean

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Update on Blue Lake

Source: November DLWID Management Report – Paul Robertson



Blue Lake which has had 3 Solar Bee units installed since 2007 recently had a cyanobacteria bloom that caused a DHS toxin warning. A new property owner on the lake coincidentally called us thinking we had SolarBees on Devils Lake and he wanted to talk about management strategies. Through our conversation it mentioned that in fact a few weeks prior the lake did turn really green, as if green oil had been spilt. He said that it he went waterskiing since, and that it had cleared up. He estimated that it lasted approximately 2 weeks at most. I also solicited information from Joe Eilers at SolarBee who sent this email reply:

Basically, we think the bloom was initiated by a major influx of high- P water. Blue Lake has no surface inlets and loses water from evaporation through the summer. The homeowners like to have Metro request inputs of water from their back-up production wells near the lake. Around the end of August they added about 8% of the lake volume with groundwater containing about 90 ug/L PO4. That coincided with the Anabaena getting going about 10 days later. The in Sept, the lake turned over, releasing another pulse of high-P water. Anyway, we are trying to get the water quality data from Metro so we can better determine the timelines and the lake response. As soon as we have that, I’ll dive into the data and try to sort things out. Joe

Jack Strayer initiated contact with Elaine Stewart, of METRO regarding Blue Lake. She is willing to send their findings once they complete them. I have had two phone attempts at getting a preview of such findings, and anticipate a call back.

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Blue-green Algae Alert Issued for Blue Lake

In April of this year Metro approved the purchase of 3 SolarBees® for permanent placement on Blue Lake.  The units had been in continuous operation for the previous 24 month during a trial on the Lake.  The Oregonian recently reported …

By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian

October 14, 2009, 5:04PM

This is not a good time to go for a brisk swim in Blue Lake east of Portland — and not just because of the weather.

The popular lake on Northeast Marine Drive is contaminated with toxins.

Recent tests show that the lake, which draws 300,000 people a year, has dangerous levels of blue-green algae.

Scott Paskill,  manager of the area for Metro, the regional agency that manages part of the lake, said the lake was covered with a scum a few days ago but he said that conditions appear to be improving.

Officials have posted signs around the lake, warning people to stay away from the water and not to fish.

Blue-green algae flourish in warm weather and also when the seasons change, producing toxins that can contaminate fish and the water.

It is dangerous to eat shellfish or crayfish from tainted water, and officials recommend that the fat, skin and organs be removed from other fish before eating.

Contaminated water can irritate the skin as well and cause nausea, diarrhea and even liver damage. Children and pets are especially susceptible.

In August, high blue-green algae levels in Elk Creek in southern Oregon killed as many as four dogs, which suffered convulsions and died quickly after frolicking in the water during visits with their owners.

Paskill is not concerned about that happening at Blue Lake.

“We don’t allow pets in the park,” he said, “and no one is using the park right now.”

A month or two ago, when the weather was warmer, it would have been a different story.

Covering 64 acres,  the lake is a popular fishing and swimming spot in summer for Portland-area residents.

Still, about 300 people live in the Fairview neighborhood, about 15 miles from downtown Portland. Paskill said they have been informed about the algae.

“It’s not like it’s the middle of summer,” he said, “but we do have to notify the public.”

For more information, call the state’s harmful algae program at 971-673-0400 or visit this Web page: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/hab.

— Lynne Terry

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