Trees could fight algae menace
Friday, January 16, 2004
A potential solution offered by Swedish fisheries officials at a symposium on golden algae in Fort Worth will be tested in one of the Brazos reservoirs. According to biologist supervisor John Tibbs with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), TPWD biologists and the Brazos River Authorities (BRA) will be experimenting with cedar trees, old Christmas trees and barley straw in an attempt to curtail any future algae blooms. Swedish fisheries officials have successfully used barley straw and discarded Christmas trees in their country to prevent the golden algae from further growth.
The BRA and TPW folks are planning on strategically placing large amounts of old trees and barley straw in Possum Kingdom as an experiment. If successful, this method may be used to curtail blooms in other reservoirs within Texas including our own Lake Granbury. Research indicates that deficiencies of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water allow the golden algae to thrive and release toxins. Barley and Christmas trees contain phosphorus, nitrogen, protein and calcium, which have aided in curtailing blooms in Sweden. Research in England has produced similar results.
Brazos River reservoirs are just some of the West Texas reservoirs to suffer the effects of major fish kills due to golden algae blooms. Golden algae prefers relatively cold water with relatively high salinity levels. These blooms normally occur in the winter when the green and blue algae are not as dominant. Possum Kingdom has suffered from golden algae blooms since 2001. Granbury has had significant blooms in 2001 and 2003. Lake Whitney had a significant fish kill from a bloom early in 2003 as well. Golden algae is not harmful to humans or livestock. This algae only affects gill-breathing animals (fish) by releasing toxins that damage their ability to breathe.