In her Care2 post on the threat drought poses to drinking water and aquatic life, Jennifer Mueller pointed out that higher temperatures increase the buildup of cyanotoxins. As the climate warms, more lakes will experience algal and bacterial blooms. In addition, agricultural runoff and human development can lead to a buildup of the kinds of nutrients that lead to algal bloom.
The new study adds to our knowledge of “hotspots” or “hot times,” but more research is needed to determine how to manage stagnant lakes and reservoirs. Improving the handling of sewage and increasing vegetation around lakes can mitigate the problem. Farmers, ranchers and cottagers will all have to take responsibility for maintaining the health of lake waters.
As much as 30 to 50 percent of cyanobacterial blooms are harmless. Only a lab test can determine whether a particular bloom is toxic. If it is, as in our case, animals drinking the water suffer a horrible death. Children who drink or swim in it are likely to suffer liver damage. Adults may escape serious illness.
If the scientists’ predictions prove true, a lot more victims will fall ill and possibly die in the coming years. Water for humans and for livestock will be affected as this silent killer lurks in wait for its victims.
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Photo 1 from Wikimedia Commons; Photo 2: Thinkstock
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