seep into lake; algae a problem
The Detroit News
TOWNSHIP -- A blanket of mint-green algae that recently
covered Campau Bay -- south of the Clinton River in Lake
St. Clair -- is a graphic example of what happens from overuse
of lawn and crop fertilizers, said biologist Carl Freeman
at Wayne State University.
"The Macomb County Health Department conducts
water tests in Campau Bay, and it always has nutrients in
it. That's a sign of fertilizers," Freeman said.
The Clinton River also is affected.
"Fertilizers from our lawns and from farms
gets washed into the Clinton River, and a lot of it ends
up in the lake," said Doug Martz, head of the Macomb Water
Algae growth was so thick that it kept
some boaters from the bay, Martz said.
That inconvenience pales in comparison
to what happened to Lake Erie in the 1950s and '60s, Freeman
said. The amount of phosphorous -- from fertilizers and
laundry detergent -- draining into Lake Erie was so plentiful
that it contributed to turning Erie into a "dead lake."
"It caused algae to grow horrifically,"
Freeman said. "When the algae died it used up the oxygen
and that asphyxiated the fish. And the dead fish used up
more oxygen. That's how Lake Erie died."
Elsewhere, nutrients are being blamed
for "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Nutrients stimulate growth in the form
of plankton blooms. And when those organisms die, they sink
to the bottom and die," according to a report from Ducks
Unlimited. "This decay process uses up available dissolved
oxygen, causing mobile organisms like fish and shrimp to
leave the area. Immobile animals like clams and oysters