River institute studying spiking algae levels

River institute studying spiking algae levels

CORNWALL, Ontario - The St. Lawrence River Institute has received a grant of $24,970 from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment - Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund.

The funding will support a project this summer called “AlgaeAlert” that will involve homeowners and volunteers in the area of Lake St. Francis. This project will track occurrences and causes of excess algae in waterways between Cornwall and the Quebec border.

Those interested in learning more about the Lake St. Francis AlgaeAlert project are invited to attend a public information session May 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the river institute. The river institute is located on the campus of St. Lawrence College, 2 St. Lawrence Dr. in Cornwall.

“We need people who live along the St. Lawrence waterfront to help us gather data and provide observations about algae in Lake St. Francis and its tributaries,” said Dr. Andy Bramburger, an algae specialist with the river institute. “From our past work, we know that excess algae in the water can be a big problem, especially when it’s one or more species collectively called cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, which have the potential to affect human and animal health.”

Many thousands of homeowners draw their household drinking water directly from the St. Lawrence River. More information is needed to identify the location, frequency, and types of algae that occur in the river, as well as the factors that contribute to harmful blue-green algae blooms.

The river institute plans to measure the water properties associated with algae occurrence, and develop models and methods to help predict and control the occurrences. The river institute plans to extend the AlgaeAlert program in future years to other sections of the St. Lawrence River. The results of this project and the predictive methods will be shared with management agencies of the St. Lawrence, and other waterways in Eastern Ontario.

For more information on the AlgaeAlert Project or the upcoming Information Session please call 613-936-6620.

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