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Warm weather means algal blooms

Algal blooms can cause problems with drinking water
Algal blooms can cause problems with drinking water
Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Algae are present pretty much anywhere that water is present. It’s a natural part of the ecosystem and provides many animals with food. Normally, algae are not a problem until it begins to grow out of control and cause an imbalance. This can have adverse effect on other plants and animals in the area as well as for people.

In San Diego, algae blooms are most frequent in extended warm weather. The algae grow faster during this time. These blooms can happen both in freshwater and salt water bodies of any size or shape. The most common type of algae in an algal bloom is blue-green algae which is actually a cyanobacteria and not a plant like green algae. Algae are often propagated by fertilizers that run off and collect in bodies of water.

Most of the time, algal blooms are harmless and not even noticed unless they are in usually large amounts like they were last May. When a large bloom happens, it often means bad tasting drinking water or a strong smell. Algae can also be an irritant to the skin and eyes of animals and birds. Though many of these animals eat algae, too much can be toxic for most oft them. A bloom can cut off oxygen supplies in the water, killing fish, and become toxic to other aquatic plants. Aquatic birds usually avoid swimming through large amounts of certain types of algae because it can coat their feathers and irritate their skin and eyes.

Most algal blooms resolve themselves on their own when the weather is cooler. In some cases, an aquatic herbicide may be applied. However, herbicides sometimes have collateral damage and may harm beneficial plants or affect animals as well. Some ways to prevent blooms include incorporating devices to keep the water moving and controlling fertilizer run-off.