Category Archives: Water Quality

Water quality information including testing by DLWID

Eco Tech: Sun-powered bacteria convert greenhouse gases into fuel

CO2-eating bacteria produce fuel.

With fossil fuels depleting at a rate much more than predicted, researchers in different parts of the globe are working on means to generate alternative fuel from sources as small as bacteria. A team from researchers from US has genetically modified bacteria to eat carbon dioxide and produce isobutyraldehyde, which can further be used to produce isobutanol.

The modified bacteria are highly efficient in the conversion process and are powered by sunlight. Cyanobacteria and microalgae have been identified to consume CO2 for a long time. However previous researches on using them to produce fuel as an output haven’t been fruitful.

The US research team was successful in genetically modifying bacteria to produce fuel using a process that is around 10 times faster than hydrogen production and about 100 times faster than genetically engineered ethanol production.

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Survey Finds Algal Toxins in Indiana Lakes at Higher Than National rate

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Researchers from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs found detectable levels of microcystin, a toxin produced by several common species of cyanobacteria, in 68 percent of a sample of Indiana lakes and reservoirs.

That’s higher than twice the rate at which microcystin was found in a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The national survey found microcystins in 32 percent of lakes and reservoirs.

Blue-green MatsMats of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) cover Palestine Lake in Kosciusko County, Ind., in this photo from August 2007.

The SPEA team, led by Professor Bill Jones, was contracted by the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to conduct the sampling of 50 Indiana lakes. Samples were sent to a variety of laboratories around the country for analysis.

The Indiana sampling was conducted in the summer of 2007 as part of the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), a survey of the nation’s lakes undertaken by the EPA. The study sampled more than 1,000 lakes and reservoirs more than 10 acres in size to get an unbiased, statistically relevant snapshot of water quality in lakes and reservoirs in the U.S. The EPA recently released the results. Continue reading

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A New Source of Hydrogen Power

Algae can be converted into a hydrogen source through the method of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a plants ability to convert solar energy and turn it into something else. A scientist by the name of Barry Bruce, who is a professor at UT Knoxville, has discovered when using photosynthesis with a certain type of algae and a catalyst method with platinum, that hydrogen was produced when that algae was exposed to light.

 Barry Bruce is head of a team of researchers that work on these findings from UT Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They are researching this to create a solution for a natural fuel for the possibility of even using it in vehicles. Continue reading

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Two states battle Lake Tahoe infestation

California and Nevada mount a counterattack against invasive nonnative clams.

Associated Press
August 21, 2009

California and Nevada agreed Thursday to jointly mount a counterattack against invasive species that pose an increasing threat to Lake Tahoe’s azure waters.

California Secretary of Natural Resources Mike Chrisman and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons signed the agreement during an environmental summit that annually brings together scientists, politicians, federal land managers and conservationists to get updates on the condition of the lake and new potential sources of harm to its famed clarity.

“Those of us in the political arena come from many different political points of view, but we come together when we talk about Lake Tahoe,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

“That little line that goes down the middle of the lake between our two states is not a line that divides us. It is a line that joins us,” said Gibbons, a Republican.

Although catastrophic wildfires, air pollution and erosion continue to pose threats to the lake, new research shows a major infestation of nonnative Asian clams could cause even more trouble.

The dime-sized clams are believed to be linked to a major algae bloom last summer, and experts said they could help other invaders, quagga and zebra mussels, successfully establish themselves at the lake.

Densities of clam beds have increased dramatically since their discovery in 2002.
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times


For additional information on Asian clams:

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Wisconsin Gets Serious in Reducing Phosphorus in Lakes

Polluted runoff is Wisconsin’s number one water quality problem, degrading or threatening an estimated 90% of inland lakes. Extra phosphorus can wash into our lakes and streams from lawns, farm fields, stormwater and construction sites, roads and other hard surfaces, causing algae blooms, water quality decline, and negative impacts on recreational lake use and lakeshore property values. Phosphorus is the main nutrient that drives eutrophication in most lakes.

The Wisconsin Association of Lakes supports increased funding to implement polluted runoff programs and other policy initiatives that will reduce polluted runoff from agricultural and urban sources.  The Association has had several recent successes making substantial change to Wisconsin Law.

The “Clean Lakes bill” (AB 3) passed in the 2009-2010 legislative session which creates a statewide law regulating phosphorus in lawn fertilizer and will prohibit the display, sale, and use of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus. On May 27th, 2009, a bill (AB-281) was introduced that would reduce one of the most common causes of pollution: phosphorus in household products.  Several other changes attempting to reduce phosphorus in Wisconsin lakes have recently happened, read more about the Wisconsin Lake Association polluted runoff polices by following the link.  (Read More)

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Filed under Algae Bloom, Water Quality


July 28, 2009

Cyano1The first signs of this year’s blue-green algae bloom began on July 28th.  Some surface scum can be found in area that the prevailing wind has concentrated algae in confined areas.   You can click on the picture to the right to get an enlarged view that shows the higher concentrations. With the high temperatures in the valley, the air has been still on the lake and large patches of highly concentrated algae can be seen in the various areas of the lake.  The majority of the lake apears to have much lower levels with algea present but not highly concentrated.  We’ll continue to make visual observations and report results.  We have added a new sidebar feature to this website that provides a convient link to the latest DLWID water quality test.

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Lake warning draws fire from residents

The News Guard
July 8, 2009


An alert about potentially toxic cyanobacteria on Devils Lake in the run up to the Fourth of July prompted criticism from some lakefront property owners at the’ July 2 Devils Lake Water Improvement District meeting.

Lake Manager Paul Robertson posted yellow alert signs July 1 after noticing an increase in green slime on the lake surface particularly at Regatta Grounds and East Devils Lake State Park.

Similar cyanobacteria blooms last summer and fall produced levels of liver toxin that exceeded state and World Health Organization limits for recreational water use.

Robertson said the yellow alert signs, which warn lake users to stay clear of scummy water, were posted as a precaution in accordance with the district’s cyano-watch program.

Robertson also gave radio interviews in which he warned that water skiers could be at heightened risk of exposure to any toxins produced by the bloom if they breath in vapor when skiing through scummy water.

Lake resident Bud Depweg said Robertson is scaring people away from the lake, “I think that’s wrong,” he said, both businesswise, which doesn’t mean anything, but because so far, in my 34 years [as a lakefront property owner,] I have yet to see anyone get sick because of skiing through this green slime that’s all over the lake.”

Lake resident Larry Brown said Robertson should not be allowed to speak on behalf of the district’s board of directors without authorization.

 Board Vice-chair Jack Strayer said Robertson has discretion to speak to the media when he feels it is appropriate.

 Robertson said informing the public about potential risks is a key part of the cyano-watch program.

 “What’s the point in developing a program if you’re not going to tell people about it?” he said.

 The district is scheduled to run toxicity tests on the bloom Thursday, July 9.

Brown also called for the district to change its water sampling methods, saying samples should be taken at set times and at set locations in the middle of the lake, with the collection and analysis done by outside companies.

Speaking before the meeting, Robertson defended the district’s current policy of “incident-based” sampling, which involves testing water quality whenever a bloom occurs.

He said cyanobacteria scum tends to accumulate around the edges of the lake, where children and dogs, who would be more vulnerable to any toxins, are most likely to be at play.

“You really put yourself at risk of  underestimating what the levels might be if you only rely on the mid-lake stuff,” he said.

After the meeting, Robertson said the district is working on the logistics of taking mid-lake samples in addition to shoreline samples.

Determining the severity of the lake’s  cyanobacteria problem will help decide whether the district will pursue a whole lake circulation project, such as the installation of 20 SolarBee water agitators on the lake surface, in an attempt to deny the bacteria the calm water they need to bloom.

A recent surge of opposition to the SolarBee idea convinced the board to shelve any further action until questions about the cyanobacteria risk and whether the modules have any history of causing boating accidents.

Lake resident Mitchell Moore urged the board to go a step further and  pronounce the SolarBee concept dead and take advantage of the public’s newfound interest in the district to move forward on other projects that have widespread support.

Brown said the board and Robinson should focus on arranging events such as water skiing displays, fishing derbies and kayak races to build camaraderie among lakefront property owners.

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Filed under Algae Bloom, DLWID, Solarbees, Water Quality