East Lake, California - our first success story with Golden Algae
Golden Algae — The Problem & The Solution
Adding hyperaccumulators — plants and endophytes — and nano-bubbler technology to our proprietary BioHaven island matrix is a formula for success in the field of golden algae elimination.
What is Golden Algae? Golden algae are single-cell organisms that live in moist environments. They are created through photosynthesis, a chemical reaction that occurs by combining sunlight, CO2, and – in the case of golden algae – other nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Algae is not always toxic or harmful for the environment. It consumes waste products of aquatic animals and decomposing organisms, and helps maintain balance in the ecosystem. However, exposure to high levels of animal or industrial waste, fertilizers, and other energy sources cause algae to “bloom” and overrun the environment. Some algae blooms, including golden algae, produce toxins that are dangerous to the environment. These algae blooms disrupt the balance of the ecosystem, choking out fish, blocking light from reaching other organisms, and depleting oxygen from the water. Golden algae in particular produces toxins that cause a high rate of fish kill by damaging their gills. How is it different from green algae or blue-green algae? When we think of algae, most people think “pond scum” – green filmy strands covering the surface of the water.Golden algae is not so familiar, but can be just as damaging to the environment when it blooms, and can be very difficult to eradicate. Rather than floating on the water’s surface, golden algae blooms make a body of water appear a yellow/gold color. Unlike green or blue-green algae, the toxins created by golden algae are not harmful to humans, livestock, pets, or wildlife. However, they are deadly to fish, causing extreme die offs that have devastating environmental and economic consequences for the affected areas. What conditions cause harmful blooms of golden algae? Golden algae tends to thrive in the cooler months of the year when other forms of algae experience a die-off. This gives golden algae the opportunity to bloom uninhibited. In addition, the change in nutrient levels to the water in the winter months also causes higher toxicity in golden algae blooms. What is the geography for golden algae? The type of algae that grows is determined by the particular conditions of the water, including salinity, temperature, and the nutrients in the water source as well as environmental runoff. Golden algae thrives particularly well in coastal waters and estuaries where freshwater meets seawater, but is increasingly found in freshwater that has a higher salt content. Where has golden algae become a problem? Golden algae can be found worldwide. In the United states, it first appeared in Texas, but damaging blooms have since been found in many states across the southern portion of the country, as well as scattered across the Midwest and several northern states. What solutions have been tried to eradicate golden algae blooms, and with what results? There are a number of ways private and public landowners have tried to eradicate golden algae, with mixed results. Both Texas A&M Extension and Texas Parks and Wildlife have had little luck with golden algae remediation, finding the negatives of most cleanup options outweighing the benefits. One option requires replacing pondwater entirely, then using a dye to absorb the sunlight the algae requires to grow. Unfortunately, blocking sunlight from the pond also reduces the growth of plant life in the pond, which disturbs the natural balance of the ecosystem. A second option is treating incoming water with ozone gas, a system that Texas has found some success to protect fisheries. However, it has proven difficult – if not impossible – to apply this system to natural bodies of water.
Currently, the most common way to remediate golden algae blooms is with chemicals, the most popular being copper sulfate. Obviously, adding more chemicals to an environment that is already being impacted by foreign nutrients and pollutants is not the healthiest option for humans or the ecosystem. A system of remediation that does not require the addition of chemicals to environments already stressed from agricultural and industrial pollutants would be far preferable.
Options such as replacing pondwater entirely, using dye to absorb sunlight the algae requires to grow, and treating with ozone gas have all been tried, with only limited success. Each approach has its own drawbacks that limit its viability to eradicate the problem of golden algae on a larger scale. A method that has shown promise in studies at Texas A&M was “hydraulic flushing manipulation,” which involves circulating the water in ponds to mitigate algae blooms and revitalize ecosystems. However, such studies have a limited scope and only focus on circulating the water. They do not include providing safe habitat for fish and healthy bacteria on the water’s surface. What are high-profile HABs that feature golden algae? Perhaps the most high profile fish kill occurred in 2001 at Dundee State Fish Hatchery in Texas, where an entire season of striped bass were destroyed. In the nearly two decades since, golden algae blooms have been responsible for the destruction of millions of fish, devastating local economies and ecosystems. Once a problem only in the Southwest, golden algae blooms are now found throughout the U.S. In 2013, a golden algae bloom had resulted in a total fish kill in East Lake in Yorba Linda, California. Initially, copper sulfate was used to manage the algae, with only limited results.
How does BioHaven technology specifically address the challenges posed by golden algae? Golden algae creates some of the biggest problems for water managers at the federal, state, and local levels. But green-tech innovators are meeting the challenge and creating solutions. Cutting edge innovations and case studies such as in East Lake, show that golden algae can be eliminated in large reservoirs and complex river systems. A biomimetic solution will be the one that works.
BioHaven Floating Island International’s proprietary process creates aeration that “turns over” the water to increase oxygen saturation depleted by algae blooms. BioHaven-designed Floating Islands provide a base for plant root ecology and healthy bacteria to flourish. The Floating Islands provide an oxygen-rich safe haven for fish to congregate.
Adding hyperaccumulators—plants and endophytes—and nano-bubbler technology to our proprietary BioHaven island matrix is a formula for success in the field of golden algae elimination.
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