Bio-balls to be used to fight creek algae

The Frederick Gazette has an interesting article about the City’s most recent attempt to stem the stinky tide of algae growing in Carroll Creek.

They have spent $5,200 for devices designed to keep algae from making itself seen and smelled by visitors.

Roelkey Myers, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation, said the city has a new weapon to fight the algae blooms that rise to the top of the creek as summer approaches.

The city recently bought 56 AquaSpherePRO units, or as they are better known, ‘‘bio-balls.”

Manufactured by Minnesota-based Bioverse, the six-inch plastic balls contain plastic bags that dissolve, releasing bacteria and enzymes into the water, reducing sludge and accompanying odors.

‘‘The enzymes essentially creep out of the ball and eat the material the algae needs to survive, while keeping the water health for fish and the environment,” Myers said. ‘‘…We are hoping it starves the algae right out of the creek.”

Myers said once water temperatures reach 40 degrees over several days, park attendants will tether the balls to the bottom of the creek with weights so they float underwater. The goal is to place eight ‘‘bio-balls” every 100 feet along the creek, changing them once a month for four months.

The city also plans to use the devices in Whittier Lake, which also faces similar algae problems.

Each month, the old bio-ball is discarded and a new one is used, meaning 56 devices are needed for both bodies of water, costing the city $5,200 for the pilot program.

The city will then look to see if they want to invest in four more months of the devices to carry them into October, when cooler weather returns.

Here is a little more about the Bio-Balls if you’re interested.

~Guy~

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0 thoughts on “Bio-balls to be used to fight creek algae

  1. So what exactly does the algae need that other fish and plant life don’t? If the bacteria released is able to consume whatever it’s supposed to consume, what keeps it from reproducing and taking over the whole creek, and anything down stream? I’m skeptical, but it’s probably worth a try.

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  2. FredRocks,

    Many algae are photosynthetic organisms, which means they consume CO2 and other organic nutrients and produce oxygen. They thrive in stagnant, oxygen deprived water, like the creek. The easiest way to pump more oxygen into the creek is to increase the water flow. The bacteria will eat all of the available nutrients in the water, which doesn’t give the algae much reason to stay around but they will fade away when their source of food goes away.

    The long term solution is to increase the water flow, but the BioBalls should help in the short-term.

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  3. This would be fantastic if it works! And I agree at that price it seems like a steal! Carroll Creek is such a fabulous place…cleaning up the water would make it that much better!

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  4. One more story, for all the science geeks out there (and speaking of Over sensationalized!):

    From Eureka Alerts http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/uonc-hat040208.php

    Harmful algae taking advantage of global warming

    CHAPEL HILL – You know that green scum creeping across the surface of your local public water reservoir” Or maybe it’s choking out a favorite fishing spot or livestock watering hole. It’s probably cyanobacteria – blue-green algae – and, according to a paper in the April 4 issue of the journal Science, it relishes the weather extremes that accompany global warming.

    Hans Paerl, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences Professor and co-author of the Science paper, calls the algae the “cockroach of lakes.” It’s everywhere and it’s hard to exterminate – but when the sun comes up it doesn’t scurry to a corner, it’s still there, and it’s growing, as thick as 3 feet in some areas.

    The algae has been linked to digestive, neurological and skin diseases and fatal liver disease in humans. It costs municipal water systems many millions of dollars to treat in the United States alone. And though it’s more prevalent in developing countries, it grows on key bodies of water across the world, including Lake Victoria in Africa, the Baltic Sea, Lake Erie and bays of the Great Lakes, Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and in the main reservoir for Raleigh, N.C.

    “This is a worldwide problem,” said Paerl, Kenan Professor of marine and environmental sciences in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

    “It’s long been known that nutrient runoff contributes to cyanobacterial growth. Now scientists can factor in temperature and global warming,” said Paerl, who, with professor Jef Huisman from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, explains the new realization in Science paper.

    “As temperatures rise waters are more amenable to blooms,” Paerl said.

    The algae also thrive in wet, soggy ground in areas experiencing periodic floods, like the U.S. Midwest. And in a drought, like the Southeastern United States is experiencing now, other algae and aquatic organisms die off, cyanobacteria thrive, waiting to explode

    Warmer weather has also created longer growing seasons, and it’s enabled cyanobacteria to grow in northern waters previously too cold for their survival. Species first found in southern Europe in the 1930s now form blooms in northern Germany, and a Florida species now grows in the Southeastern U.S. Others have appeared recently places as far north as Montana and throughout Canada.

    Fish and other aquatic animals and plants stand little chance against cyanobacteria. The algae crowds the surface water, shading out plants – fish food – below. The fish generally avoid cyanobacteria, so they’re left without food. And when the algae die they sink to the bottom where their decomposition can lead to extensive depletion of oxygen.

    These cyanobacteria – blue-green algae – were the first plants on earth to produce oxygen.

    “It’s ironic,” Paerl said. “Without cyanobacteria, we wouldn’t be here. Animal life needed the oxygen the algae produced.” Now, however, it threatens the health and livelihood of people who depend on infested waters for drinking water or income from fishing and recreational use.

    These algae that were first on the scene, Paerl predicts, will be the last to go … right after the cockroaches.

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  5. Pingback: Bio Remediation is working « Frederick Maryland Online

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