Phosphorus Load Control in the Prevention of Harmful Algal Blooms : The Case of Lake Erie, located between the United States of America and Canada

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi

Abstract: For over ten years the Western Basin of Lake Erie has been plagued by significant harmful algal blooms (HABs). Lake Erie is a body of water situated between the United States of America (USA) and Canada. The lake provides water to approximately 40 million people and is a considerable source of economic value. The Western Basin of Lake Erie is highly prone to HABs due to the shallow depth and large phosphorus (P) loads received from the large area of agricultural land surrounding the lake and its tributaries. HABs cause extensive ecosystem degradation, have multiple negative health impacts, and cause significant economic losses for the tourism and fishery industries. Five products with P load reducing properties from the three nutrient control categories (biological, physical, and chemical) were chosen to determine how effective their P load reduction pathways were. Additionally, these products were analyzed to determine if they could generate positive remediation effects on the Lake Erie HAB. Of these five products, the technologies Water 3.0 and PO4 Sponge were applied to a Western Basin HAB model generated using the Stella Professional software from ISEE Systems. The two products were modeled individually and collectively to compare the application effects on the HAB model. The model results illustrate the significant reduction in P load and HAB extent that the application of these products at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and within waterways could have. The application of both products at multiple locations within the model showed the greatest P load reduction and nearly eliminated the HAB extent. Unfortunately, the residual P from extensive historical P loading into the lake would prevent such a significant reduction from occurring for over a decade. Current practices and regulations in the Lake Erie Basin are not stimulating P load reductions significant enough to remediate the HAB. As the Western Basin HAB continues to occur annually, the waste stream produced by the HAB remains unutilized. Implementing new and innovative technologies in the basin can generate high quality commodity streams out of the wasted biological algal matter. Meanwhile the implementation of new technologies and practices can help reduce the HAB to a smaller size that would have smaller negative impacts to the economy, health, and ecology.

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