What's With All The Algae?
BY Chris McLaughlin
ON September 21, 2018
Hamilton Harbour has an algae problem. People have noticed! Because it has a nutrient problem – or, mostly a phosphorus problem. And a sediment problem, too, which is related to the phosphorus problem. Let me explain briefly.

Sediment is material that settles in liquid, like the grounds of your coffee at the bottom of the cup. But we’re talking about the fine sandy, earthy material that’s picked up by water and air from farm fields and parking lots and just about everywhere else and deposited into surface water.

Phorphorus is a mineral necessary to healthy humans and healthy aquatic ecosystems, and it’s also found everywhere. Phosphorus is feedstock for algae – a diverse group of tiny aquatic photosynthetic organisms – and too much phosphorus fuels the blooms of algae we’re experiencing in the Harbour this fall.

To complicate things, we use the term “blue-green algae” to mean cyanobacteria that can cause toxins that are fatal to pets and wildlife and can cause illness in humans. These have also been detected in the Harbour this fall and warnings have been posted , although many are plowing ahead with the use of the public docks and boat launch at Bayfront Park. If you do come into contact with the algae, please heed the advice of Hamilton Public Health and wash thoroughly.

The City of Hamilton has begun to use suction trucks to vaccuum up the most offensive public areas.
Could it be that the sewage spill into Chedoke Creek earlier this summer has fertilized the West Harbour and made things worse? It’s a possibility. Many boaters and others with long memories have told us that they cannot remember a bloom this bad.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates and more information in the coming weeks on what can be done.
Author Bio - Chris McLaughlin
Chris McLaughlin is BARC's Executive Director.
Chris McLaughlin is BARC's Executive Director.

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