North Carolina July 03, 2017
You May Not Want To Swim In These North Carolina Waters This Summer Due To A Dangerous Discovery
As waters around the world heat up, bacteria grows. Across the globe the growth of cyanobacteria species has been increasing in frequency and over the last year there’s been a rise in potentially dangerous algae blooms, especially in North Carolina waters. What does this mean exactly? Algae blooms – or the ‘blue/green stuff’ seen floating in ponds can cause skin rashes, liver damage, and neurological changes. While no one would intentionally jump in a questionable looking pond, algae blooms in larger bodies of water, where one might not notice, are the real cause for concern.
The 'blooms' occur sporadically, so it's hard to predict when or where one might encounter them. Scientists are linking the presence of algae blooms to climate change. While algae blooms have been around for million of years and typically not harmful in small sections (we've all swum somewhere with algae), rising water temperatures increase production of harmful bacteria, adding a slight cause for concern.
Only two weeks ago on June 25, 2017
the Elizabeth City Daily Advance reported
the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality were urging people to stay away from blue/green water in the Chowan River due to an algal bloom,
"According to a state DEQ press release issued Friday, Chowan County's algae bloom extends along the eastern side of the river from the Arrowhead Beach area south to Edenton, then continues east hugging the shoreline until just beyond the N.C. Highway 32 bridge."
Scarily enough, cyanobacteria problems have also been reported in Jordan Lake - Raleigh's main water source and a popular place for weekend recreation.
It's not just the eastern side of the state where 'do not swim' warnings have been issued. On June 30, 2017
N.C. Department of Environmental Quality reported
for people to avoid any contact with algal blooms in Waterville Lake in Haywood County and the Tuckasegee arm of Fontana Lake in Swain County. Concentrations of Microcystis and Anabaena, members of the bluegreen algae family were found in Waterville Lake. Algae species Aphanizomenon and Anabaena were found in Fontana Lake but at very low levels.
DEQ said it was fine for boating and fishing in the areas, but encourage the public to steer clear of swimming in water that appears to contain more than normal amounts of algae. While it's common sense to not jump in the murky, algae infested water, it's mainly children and pets that need to be kept in close vision when swimming in areas reported with high levels.
In 2016 alone, the The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality confirmed the presence of harmful algae blooms in 19 times across North Carolina. Cyanobacteria toxins called microcystin were also found in the Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound, a Brunswick County storm water pond, a pond in Davie County pond and Greenfield Lake in New Hanover County.
While climate can be to blame it doesn't help that human activity also increases algae blooms. Manmade causes include when nitrogen and phosphorous wash into our waterways from lawn and crop fertilizers, livestock animal manure, and underperforming sewage treatment plants. North Carolina especially hurts in the use of nitrogen.
Speaking of livestock, algae blooms can be potentially deadly to animals, even adding to the idea that these recent blooms could be cause for death to grazing livestock. The majority of algae in North Carolina is found in freshwater ponds but last summer the Chowan River experienced a massive bloom.
While there's no serious cause for concern and you shouldn't completely steer clear of certain bodies of water, being aware of an issue is always a good place to start. Have you noticed an increase in algae blooms the past few summers? Witnessed any yourself or even seen a pet or livestock fall ill for no reason?
Seems like a good case of, ‘the more you know.’ Have you encountered any massive algae blooms this summer?
While you might want to steer clear of certain waters, you can guarantee these
10 swimming holes are safe for swimming.