We must all do our part to stop algal blooms

There’s nothing better on a hot day than cooling off at the lake. Unfortunately, this summer Lake Anna has again been plagued by toxic algal blooms, as noted in several recent Free Lance–Star articles.

The masses of algae have become so bad that the Virginia Department of Health has urged people to avoid contact with the lake. “I’ve seen it; it’s disgusting,” a local resident said.

And it’s not just Lake Anna. This is a recurring problem in many of the tidal rivers in the region, such as the Rappahannock, York and the James rivers.

Algal blooms have a clear cause. Too many nutrients, combined with warm weather, lead to an explosion in algae growth. Excess nutrients wind up in local waters when heavy rains wash fertilizer and other pollution off farms, lawns, streets, and developed areas. This polluted runoff is the biggest challenge to clean water in Lake Anna and all the rivers and streams in our region.

Fortunately, Virginia has a plan to reduce runoff under the Clean Water Blueprint, technically known as the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan.

The Blueprint calls for everyone to do their part, starting with practices at home that capture rain, such as rain barrels and rain gardens, as well as fertilizing only when needed. Under the Blueprint, farmers are fencing livestock out of waterways and planting buffers of trees that help filter runoff. Many cities are making progress in managing stormwater.

If we want cleaner and safer water, it’s vital that our elected officials support state and local programs and policies under the Clean Water Blueprint.

We deserve healthier lakes and rivers, but we can only achieve that goal if everyone does their part. Then we can all enjoy cooling off in waterways on a hot summer day.

Ann Jurczyk

Virginia Director of Outreach and Advocacy


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