Saturday, June 3, 2023

Clear Lake: California’s Second Largest Lake and the Site of 2022’s Third Worst Toxic Algal Bloom

The following is a press release from BlueGreen Water Technologies:

A blue-green algae bloom at Clear Lake in 2019 [Photograph from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife]

As 2022 comes to a close, BlueGreen Water Technologies (BlueGreen) has released its list of the Top 10 Worst Toxic Algal Blooms of 2022. Toxic algae is a growing menace, choking the life out of water bodies from California to the Carolinas and beyond. In 2022, blooms suffocated aquatic ecosystems, endangered human health, and proved fatal for pets and wildlife.

“2022 will go down as a horrific year for water bodies in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Eyal Harel, CEO, BlueGreen. “We’ve seen red tide poison marine life from California to Florida and toxic blue-green algae choke lakes from coast to coast.”

2022 must serve as a wake up call:  harmful algal blooms are exploding in severity and frequency.

“The fact remains: global leaders, environmental regulators, states, municipalities, and regional water districts must do more to prevent and remediate these outbreaks,” said Harel. “Despite overwhelming science, despite the outcry from experts and advocacy groups and citizens, this toxic plague persists. We must break the pattern.”

At the United Nations’s recent conference on climate change, COP27, Water and Climate Coalition Leaders called on world leaders to better manage and integrate water and climate action. As the planet continues to warm, sea level rise, flooding, droughts, heat waves, and water pollution will only worsen.

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“Sounding the alarm on the global stage helps, but it must be backed up with action,” said Harel. “Water nourishes our planet. Clean water supports life and protects ecosystems. It ensures the diversity of species. It is our most precious natural resource and we must protect it.”

Top 10 Worst Toxic Algal Blooms of 2022

  1. San Francisco Bay, California The 2022 summer spectacle in the San Francisco Bay area looked like a scene out of a horror movie: tens of thousands of dead fish poisoned by red tide fouled the shoreline. The rotting carcasses of sharks, sturgeon, rays, striped bass, and other fish were piling up by Labor Day.  The scale and severity of this year’s outbreak exceeded even the worst prediction models and will go down as the worst red tide outbreak in the Bay’s recorded history. So far.
  2. Dianchi Lake, China  Since the late 20th century, Dianchi has been one of China’s most polluted lakes. The summer of 2022 brought a thick layer of blue-green algae to the water’s surface and a familiar, strong stench. At times the toxicity on Dianchi has been so severe the lake has been declared too dangerous for human contact. Over the years, outbreaks have led to loss of habitat and the extinction of endemic fish species. 2022 marks another year that the problem remains unsolved.
  3. Clear Lake, California There’s no way to sugarcoat it:  summer after summer, California’s second largest lake turns into a festering cesspool of toxic gunk, the kind that sends your respiratory system into alarm mode. The summer of 2022 was no different. Noxious blooms of toxic blue-green algae forced residents indoors to escape the stench and avoid the headaches and respiratory problems caused simply by breathing in the vicinity of the infected lake next door.
  4. Elands Bay, South Africa In the fishing village of Elands Bay, toxic algae forced a mass stranding of west coast rock lobster in February. About 500 tons washed ashore; breaking waves deposited the sickened sea critters over a five kilometer stretch of coastline. Harmful algal blooms have increased sixfold along South Africa’s west coast over the past few decades and rock lobster strandings have also increased – at an alarming rate.
  5. Lake Erie, Ohio   On the western side of Lake Erie, a familiar soupy green began creeping across the water’s surface in mid July, sending a sick, decaying smell wafting across the water. Lake Erie’s summer blooms are among the worst accumulations of toxic algae in the U.S. NOAA’s severity index scored the 2022 bloom at 6.8, moderately severe. Measuring 416 square miles, the bloom was not as large as the 2021 outbreak, but it was more concentrated and therefore, considered more severe than last year’s edition.
  6. Jordan Lake, North Carolina  At least two dogs became ill and one died after swimming in Jordan Lake in June. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s field staff reported no visible signs of toxic algae in the lake, but testing later confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), underscoring the very real possibility of invisible dangers lurking within water bodies that look just fine on the surface. State water resource officials say they monitor Jordan Lake consistently and routinely test for harmful algae.
  7. Lake Carmi, Vermont  Toxic blue-green algae returned for yet another summer to Lake Carmi, choking the lake and killing fish, closing beaches, and sending residents indoors to avoid the health risks associated with harmful algal blooms, not to mention the smell.The blooms arrived earlier than normal this year. Dead fish began washing ashore in late July. The state has invested millions of dollars in remediation efforts that are not working. The situation is so dire that in 2018, Vermont lawmakers designated Lake Carmi the state’s first “Lake in Crisis.”
  8. Lake Champlain, Vermont  As if on cue, blooms of pea green cyanobacterial blooms arrived on Lake Champlain in mid summer, closing beaches and prompting health officials to warn people not to go near the water. Parts of the 435-square-mile lake have struggled with chronic, recurring bouts of toxic algae every year without fail. Blooms used to end in the summer but are now lingering into fall. The increase in outbreaks has been linked to climate change, nutrient pollutants, and runoff.
  9. Southwest Florida  Red tide exploded along Southwest Florida’s coast in the weeks following Hurricane Ian, killing fish, closing beaches, and posing health risks to people, wildlife, and pets. Karenia brevis, the microscopic organism that causes red tide, was detected in the Gulf waters from Tampa to Naples. Polluted runoff after Ian helped fuel the outbreak, which continues to plague the area as residents struggle to rebuild after the hurricane.
  10.  University Lakes, Louisiana The University Lakes, a chain of six lakes near the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, broke out into shallow pits of green slime over the summer, with rotting algae and other exposed plant life baking in the sun. The overpowering stench of decaying vegetation has returned every summer without fail for years. A major restoration and dredging project is in the works, with the state providing millions in funding for the clean up plan.

About BlueGreen Water Technologies:

BlueGreen Water Technologies is leading the charge in helping preserve and promote life on Earth. We are restoring, safeguarding, and optimizing the health, safety, accessibility, and biodiversity of waterbodies worldwide – including their wildlife, aquatic life, ecosystems, and economies – by pioneering and applying proven scientific ingenuity and deep tech solutions. BlueGreen is the first and only company in the world to develop, obtain regulatory approval for, and commercialize a technology suite that reverses the effects of climate change in water bodies and drastically reduces greenhouse gas levels. The multidisciplinary team of BlueGreen experts is exposing the secrets of lakes and oceans – detecting, analyzing, preventing and remediating some of the most complex and dynamic problems that plague the world’s water systems.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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