Saturday, June 30, 2018

If you're blue about blue-green algae...

Consider the sources, along with the consequences.

Swimmers were barred from Pewaukee Lake late last week due to the appearance of blue-green algae that can be toxic to people and pets. 

The emergency has passed, officials have said.

Here's what blue-green algae can look like in bloom, according to EPA photos from Illinois. 
Wisconsin's DNR has posted a lot of information on its web pages about blue-green algae - - I'll get to some of that in a moment - - but no photos so dramatic.

By the way, there was similar news last week about Lake Winnebago

Also in Dane County, where many beaches were forced to close. 

Like I said, the DNR has posted a lot of information about blue-green algae in Wisconsin waters, and this paragraph caught my eye: is possible that the frequency and duration of blooms are increasing in some Wisconsin waters as a result of increased nutrient concentrations. Nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, can be carried into water bodies as a result of many human activities, including agriculture, discharge of untreated sewage, and use of phosphorus-based fertilizers and detergents.
The DNR knows that it's more than "possible" that human activity is contributing to algae blooms "in some Wisconsin waters," because: 

*  The agency has been reporting a steep increase in the number of waterways in Wisconsin due to phosphorous-related or other impairment- - I've blogged about it several times, including most recently, here - - and the agency even posted this definitive statement earlier this year:
Every two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add 242 new water body segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five water bodies are proposed to be delisted. A 30-day public comment period was held November 2017 through January 8, 2018. The final documents are listed below and some of the information found can be viewed on the 2018 Water Quality Report to Congress webpage.
*  The agency, even under Walker's environmentally-damaging 'chamber of commerce mentality' management, held a major conference on the matter a few months ago, about which I wrote:
If you ease up on phosphorous discharges, Bucky, you get waterway pollution, algae, studies and meetings.  
Will you get results?  
I'd noted, here, a DNR focus on persistent phosphorous contamination in the Wisconsin River Basin, and have been posting frequently about Wisconsin's spiking waterway pollution, so I want to add this item posted by the DNR to my growing published data base...
* And the result of that conference and its studies: The DNR recommends that one major Wisconsin waterway have its phosphorous load reduced, while two others will be allowed moreLet's keep an eye on this: 
DNR officials say Petenwell and Castle Rock lakes can take more phosphorus without contributing to algae blooms but Lake Wisconsin needs tougher standards to preserve recreation.
* Walker and the DNR have waived through the addition of scores of new or expanding large dairy, animal feeding and manure discharging operations. Is anyone surprised that where the big feedlots are concentrated, the groundwater pollution is severe?

* And don't forget, as I noted, that Walker and the GOP-run legislature weakened phosphorous discharge standards statewide

so no one in state government can be surprised that we now have more impaired waterways - - or summertime beach closings.

And let's not forget all the people who spread fertilizers on their lawns. 

Where do they think that runoff ends up?

Or, for that matter, from golf courses like the one planned in what is now the City of Sheboygan thanks to a sweetheart annexation just at the edge of Lake Michigan after wetlands on the site have been filled, scores of acres of woodlands are to be leveled, and chemical treatments for operations are to be stored or prepared on acreage handed over to the developer inside the adjoining state park.

In a state where heavier rain events are predicted and seem to be happening with serious consequences due to a warming climate, but don't look for that information on the DNR's scrubbed website, or studied by scientists laid off there by Walker and his legislative, partisan GOP allies.

Even though the blissfully-ignorant-and-always-campaigning Scott Walker's own state emergency government managers have posted climate change warnings and have urged actions to acknowledge and mitigate it - - which Walker and his backers blissfully ignore.

As the late iconic writer and cartoonist Walt Kelly wisely advised, 'we have met the enemy, and he is us.'

Though greater responsibility lies with polluter-friendly public officials like Walker, Trump, EPA desecrater-administrator-in-chief Scott Pruitt and others serving corporate interests.

So the veteran, Wisconsin-born conservation writer Bill Stokes gets the last word on this matter here, as it was his Facebook posting today speaking through his persona and medium, Kickass the doorstop dog, that directed me to my keyboard:
Kickass, the doorstop dog, says there is an over-the-top irony that on this miserably hot summer day, those members of the tribe who have managed to climb the economic diving board high enough to live on lake-shore property cannot jump in the lake to cool off. The irony applies as well to those who own boats or even just a swimming suit because nobody wants anything to do with the pools of poisoned, stinking gruel that were once beautiful, clear-water lakes. 
So the lake-shore mansion owners with the manicured lawns and the crop growers in the upstream watershed go on about their chemical-use business, and even if they were somehow deterred it would take decades for the lakes to clear up because the bottom silt is so poisoned. 
Kickass would love to go for a swim today, but he can’t because there is no clean water. Most creatures—including pigs, know not to befoul their nests. Only humans don’t seem to get it, and they think they are way up there on the top step of the evolutionary diving board.

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