Running Amuck: Harmful algae blooms fouling waters across the nation

September 16, 2017 GMT

Colonies of fast-growing algae and bacteria have struck at least 460 lakes, ponds and streams in the United States this year — blooms that killed cattle and dogs and closed beaches from California to New York, a nationwide analysis by The Post and Courier shows.

Thanks to a warming planet and pollution, harmful algae blooms are a growing menace in the United States and across the world. A new study predicts the number of algae blooms could triple in the next 30 years.

Often coating lakes with a green paint-like slime, these blooms can hide powerful toxins. Some scientists have linked harmful algal blooms with clusters of Lou Gehrig’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

They also cost hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost economic activity, health expenses and lower property values. Water systems in South Carolina and elsewhere are spending tens of millions of dollars to protect customers from algae-fouled water.

Yet, despite the impact and growing frequency of blooms, the federal government has no national roster of ongoing algae blooms. Information about impaired lakes, streams and beaches is scattered among state agencies and local health departments. Many blooms go unreported.

To fill that gap, The Post and Courier searched for advisories, warnings and other reports of algae blooms this year. The result is a portrait of muck and disruption ( Read more ).

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