Algae blooms are a very common occurrence in Florida’s water systems, especially during the spring and summer months. This is partially due to our moderately warm temperatures year-round, and the high temperatures we experience all summer long. We have had an unusually warm winter this year, which has resulted in the seasonal algae blooms beginning earlier than usual.
Another contributing factor is an increase in nutrients available within the waterbody. This is often caused by run-off from golf courses and lawns after fertilization, as the nutrients that make grass grow also enable the growth of algae. It also can be attributed to the lack of rain Florida has received lately. This has resulted in low water levels in lakes and ponds, which is causing the fish to migrate into the deeper waters, disturbing sediment and submersed vegetation, thus releasing more nutrients into the water column. The more nutrients available in the water, the more rapidly the algae will grow.
The sudden growth of algae is the most common concern Lake and Wetland Management receives from its clients. Algae blooms tend to be unsightly, ranging in color from green to brown, and have various textures and consistencies. It is often referred to as “slime” or “sludge” by homeowners due to its appearance.
While there are many species of algae naturally occurring in the waterways, we generally encounter two types; planktonic and filamentous. Filamentous algae is the floating or matte form that grows on the bottom of lakes and eventually floats to the surface. Planktonic algae give a waterway a green, cloudy appearance or looks like green paint in the water. The type of algae we encounter in the field dictates its treatment as each form has its own unique growth habit that needs to be addressed.
When algae are growing, Lake and Wetland Management provides EPA-approved algaecide treatments throughout the year. These treatments are applied directly to the target algae, and when applied according to label directions, will only affect the target species. The algaecide works quick to break up the cell walls, especially in the hot summer sun where the algae are growing at a high rate. After only a day or so, the effects become visible as the algae begin to die and break apart. Over the course of the next 7 to 10 days, the algae decompose and eventually dissipate back into the water column.
Algae blooms are completely normal (and expected) during the warmer months of the year. They typically tend to dissipate and become less frequent once the weather begins to cool in the fall.
If you are experiencing algae in your lake, contact Lake and Wetland Management so that one of our aquatic biologists may help in determining the best course of action for remedy in your particular waterway.