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Toxic Blue-Green Algae Plague Freshwater
Algal blooms have closed lake beaches or led to swimming advisories from Vermont's Lake Champlain to Dorena Reservoir in Oregon and from Florida’s Caloosahatchee River to Wisconsin's Lake Menomin. In addition to the health risks, the blooms take an economic toll. An estimate by Walter Dodds of Kansas State University conservatively puts the annual cost of freshwater algal blooms at more than $1 billion from lost recreation and depressed property values.

Cyanobacteria occur naturally in lakes, typically at low concentrations that are not harmful and not visible. But when levels of key nutrients – particularly phosphorus – in a water body soar and combine with high temperatures and stagnant water, the organisms thrive. Under these conditions, they outpace growth of other types of algae and streak or coat the water with bright, sometimes iridescent, blooms of green or blue-green cells.

 
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Group Aims to Slow Watershed's Fertilizer Runoff - UW-Extension created a farmer-led council that engages in conservation efforts to slow the amount of phosphorus running through the watershed into Tainter Lake and Lake Menomin. Some of these efforts include farmers increasing their organic matter in soil, keeping cover crops on soil and reducing tillage.


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