Forecasting Tools and Mitigation Options for Diverse Bloom-Affected Lakes

PI: Helen Baulch, University of Saskatchewan

The Problem: Algae blooms are one of the most vexing and widespread problems in lakes and reservoirs globally. Nuisance biomass of algae and cyanobacteria can lead to degradation of ecosystem services, loss of property values, and high costs for drinking water treatment. Blooms of cyanobacteria can lead to issues of unpleasant taste and odour and can have direct impacts on the safety of drinking water supplies by producing a variety of toxins which also impose health risks for swimmers and boaters.

The Plan: Solving the problem of algal blooms requires an understanding of how the physical environment links to geochemistry and bloom ecology, and this understanding must exist on the timescale upon which blooms develop and collapse – minutes to hours to weeks. And while solving blooms is a grand challenge, managing their impact is a key interim goal.

The Outcome: Since these blooms have been increasing in Canada and across the globe, the need to understand the current health risks and how to mitigate these blooms through a science-based approach is critical. This project will aim to reduce current risks via improved communication and forecasting and understanding the triggers of cyanobloom initiation and collapse to inform in-lake mitigation measures and improving our use of rapidly evolving new technologies to mitigate risk.