What is cyanobacterium?
It is a microorganism in the same category as bacteria.
In principle, because it is microscopic, it cannot be seen with the naked eye. It only becomes visible when its density increases significantly. When this happen, it is called an algal bloom or blue-green algae.
Most often it moves vertically in the water column. By examining the lake at an angle to avoid glare, suspended particles having the appearance of turquoise coloured sand can be seen. When the bloom worsens, the particles appear on the surface in filaments, clinging in clusters to water plants and the shore. If the situation persists, the algae can cover whole areas making the water opaque as if spilled green paint were floating on the surface.
Why do we have blue-green algae?
Cyanobacteria are a permanent presence in our waterways. Only when the quantity increases does it become a problem. The increase in concentration is due primarily to phosphates contained in sediment. The lake is too rich. Agricultural fertilizers, home fertilizers, faulty septic systems, poorly treated municipal waste-water, erosion and compost all contribute to the fertilization of the lake. Add to that the warmer climate and all conditions are met for the gradual and inevitable increase in algal blooms in our lakes.
The blooms are not always toxic. In fact, in most cases, they are not. Only proper analysis can determine if they are, but are often unavailable. It is prudent, therefore, to consider all the blooms toxic and keep a safe distance.
What is Everblue Massawippi doing about it?
Everblue Massawippi has considered the blue-green algae issue a top priority since 2006.
Although little publicity of the problem is done by municipalities and the government, outbreaks of cyanobacteria are common on Lake Massawippi, sometimes very early in the summer – July 5 in 2013, July 12 in 2012.
Through its Sentinel Project, Everblue Massawippi monitors daily lake conditions from May to October and notifies authorities of all outbreaks.
Today Everblue Massawippi (in collaboration with the University of Sherbrooke) directly and independently analyzes outbreaks to accelerate the warning process in the event of danger. Rather than waiting for several days for the Ministry to take action (if they do at all, which is not guaranteed), we now have the results within hours.
Moreover, in the longer term, the aim of more than 50% of Everblue Massawippi’s field projects is to reduce the contributing factors of cyanobacteria: erosion, agricultural drainage, riparian zones, etc.
Everblue Massawippi is responsible for managing more than six practical projects with its partners to reduce blue-green algae at an annual investment of more than $100,000.
To know more about cyanobacteria, see identification guide in the Blue-Green Algae section of the Library of Knowledge.
*If you think you see blue-green algae, please call us at 819-238-4410 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org