Eutrophication, ending it at home:

In a previous post you learnt about eutrophication and things that can be done on a large scale to stop it, but what about us, the individuals and communities, how can we help the cause? Well in this post we will learn about just that.

First of all, if you want to learn more about eutrophication, read our previous post  

So what can we do at home?

  1. If you live near a body of water you could plant more trees and plants as they can filter the elements that lead to eutrophication. Why not make it a community activity and have a tree planting day? Make sure to receive permission of the land owner first.
  1. Fundraise and purchase an aerator for your local water body. Hold a charity night to raise money, you could do a pollution quiz. 😉 Aerators are great because they increase the dissolved oxygen level, it will prevent the deterioration of the water. Possibly even saving the inhabitants.
  2. If you live in a farming community why not have a town discussion on moving to organic farming, if possible. It was found that organic farm land ‘significantly reduce harmful nitrate leaching’¹ over conventional farming methods.
  3. A side effect of eutrophication is algal blooms – this is what will definitely kill your water bodies if out of hand, so why not have a river/canal/stream clean, and remove some of the algae. Here is a link to the waterways association which can help you getting started.

 

 

  1. Change your cleaning products. Eutrophication and algal blooms have been linked to phosphate which is found in some cleaning products², so make sure you read the labels. I know I will from now on.
  2. In my home town we have a lot of development, and when they started developing near the canal, our local water body, people protested about wanting silt fences placed around the site to project the canal from sediment in run off. Here is a UK site that can provide them, Hy-Tex. The silt fences are widely used on construction sites because of the low cost and simplicity³, why not fight for them to be used in your area?

 

Yes most of these tips aren’t directly about the ocean, but streams lead to rivers, rivers lead to estuaries and estuaries lead to the ocean, and your help matters. I hope you find some of these useful, there will be more information to help with algal blooms in a coming post, and remember, every little change can make a difference.

Lauren 🙂

 

References:

  1. Kramer SB, (2006) Reduced nitrate leaching and enhanced denitrifier activity and efficiency in organically fertilized soils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (12): 4522–4527.
  2. Gilbert PA, Dejong AL (1977) The use of phosphate in detergents and possible replacements for phosphate. Ciba Foundation symposium (57): 253–268
  3. Sprague CJ, (1999) Assuring the Effectiveness of Silt Fences and Other Sediment Barriers. Proceedings of Conference 30, International Erosion Control Association, Nashville, TN. pp. 133-154.
  4. Feature image.

Feeding pollution: Eutrophication

Eutrophication… What is it? What does it cause? What can we do?

  • Eutrophication is a process caused by an influx of nutrients into aquatic ecosystems; it results in an overgrowth of algae which has detrimental effects on other plants and animals. Eutrophication is something I believe not enough people know about… and they should as it’s our human activities that are speeding up the process and enabling it to affect more and more areas. Agriculture is the main contributor to eutrophication; the fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals used in farming contains nitrates and phosphates which run off land into rivers and streams then eventually reach lakes and the sea, which causes eutrophication to take place. Industrial activity and sewage disposal also adds to the problem.
  • What you are seeing here is a toxic algal bloom, this is a result of eutrophication!

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Algae feed on the nutrients, flourishing and killing other species. Algal blooms prevent sunlight from reaching other plants which stops photosynthesis and results in a lack of oxygen in the water. Not to mention the harmful toxins being released by the blooms. However, it is not only animals and plants being affected by eutrophication – the consequences also affect us as these toxic algal blooms are also extremely harmful to our health if on our skin or ingested.

Our fisheries and public water systems are something we rely on. They are both financially affected by eutrophication…

So surely it is in our best interest to prevent it?

  • There are a few methods that could be used to reduce eutrophication and its effects such as; wastewater treatment, maintenance of flood plains and riparian buffers.

– Further treating of our wastewater would certainly decrease the anthropogenic waste that is being pumped into rives, lakes and seas.

– Maintaining flat plains along the side of rivers can also help to reduce the nutrient load, when the water rises and the river floods the nutrient rich sediment will be deposited onto the plains and not into aquatic ecosystems.

-Riparian buffers are large areas of vegetation between a river and agricultural land, preventing run off and decreasing the input of nutrients into the river.

These are methods would be effective and are relatively simple. If we have the ability to prevent eutrophication, do a little to save the environment and help ourselves along the way…Why don’t we?

Of course these methods will not be cheap but it’s a small price to pay in the long run. These were only a few methods – there must be more out there!

Kathini

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