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Algae – help when there’s too much of a good thing

BQRAP-algae-bloom-Algae and aquatic plants play an important role in maintaining the health of the Bay of Quinte, but excess amounts can threaten its health.

“Both are food sources for many aquatic inhabitants – algae sustains life, starting at the base of the food web,” said Christine Jennings, Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Environmental Technician with Quinte Conservation. “Aquatic plants provide habitat and food, for microscopic creatures, up to larger ones like: herons, ospreys, mink, swans, and muskrats.”

Jennings said there are both natural and man-made causes of excess algae and plant growth, but in the Bay of Quinte, excess growth is, generally, caused by high levels of phosphorus from both urban and rural sources.

There are a number of ways landowners can make sure they are not contributing excess phosphorus to the bay- including maintaining your septic system by having it pumped out every three to five years.

“Watch for problem warning signs like: foul odours, soggy areas and unusually lush grass around the leaching bed,” said Jennings. “Malfunctioning septic systems can be a source of harmful bacteria and release high levels of phosphorus to waterways.”

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan offers the Be Septic Savvy program to provide homeowners advice on maintaining their septic system. Also, if you live on the Bay of Quinte or up to 10 kms up one of its tributaries, you could qualify for a free septic pump out.

“Think about increasing the plant cover along your shoreline,” said Jennings. “Planting a variety of plants and shrubs will help filter run-off from the hard surfaces around your property – paved driveways and walkways, and even the turf grass on your property. Thereby, preventing excess phosphorus from entering the water. The root systems will reduce erosion problems by keeping the soil in place.”

As well, she noted, you will attract numerous species of wildlife like: ducks and turtles and deter species like Canada geese since they love grass mowed to the water’s edge.

The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan also offers a shoreline improvement program that can help create a shoreline that will provide habitat, as well as, reduce erosion and filter run-off, reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the water.

The BQRAP has several cost-sharing programs that can help both urban and rural landowners reduce their impact on the Bay of Quinte.

BOQremedialactionplanFor more information contact:
Christine Jennings, BQRAP Environmental Technician, Quinte Conservation, 613-968-3434 ext 106, cjennings@quinteconservation.ca

Veronika Wright, BQRAP Stewardship Technician, Lower Trent Conservation, 613-394-3915 ext 253, veronika.wright@ltc.on.ca

 

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