Every season has a natural ebb and flow with new growth and decay, but some environmental impacts can upset that balance. Fertilizer runoff and other sources of nitrates work to speed up the spread of blue-green algae in our waterways. That’s greatly impacts the local wildlife, as well as our drinking water quality. Fortunately, there are easy ways to help curb the effects of blue-green algae. When we all do our part, we can keep our water safe for generations to come!
Algae Levels for Indianapolis Water
While algae itself isn’t necessarily “bad” for an ecosystem, excessive amounts of the photosynthetic bacteria known as blue-green algae can add toxins to our water. (That’s why the Indiana Department of Natural Resources sometimes needs to close our community lakes for public use.) What’s more, the algae spreads faster and farther whenever phosphorus and nitrogen get added to the mix. Even when the algae blooms eventually die, the problems just continue. Its decomposition requires a lot of oxygen. And lower oxygen levels can end up killing the fish in our waterways.
The water algae levels also cause issues back at our faucets. Although our municipal water treatment plants work to make these surface water sources safe before distributing our tap water, their process usually isn’t able to completely remove the taste and odor from the algae blooms themselves. If your tap water has a musty smell this summer, there’s a good chance that the high algae levels are to blame. A home water filtration system can help fix that, but it’s also crucial that we follow steps to prevent the algae from growing in the first place.
1. Cleaning Up Pet Waste
Whether you’re on a walk around the local park or just wanting to relax at home, it’s always important to get your pet waste under control. Algae blooms thrive off nitrate and phosphate, and pet waste is a key culprit for delivering those “nutrients” directly into our waterways. When left out, pet waste can mix with storm water runoff and interfere with the nearby creeks, streams, and rivers.
2. Prevent Lawn Runoff
In addition to pet waste, lawn fertilizer is another accelerator for blue-green algae. Most landscaping doesn’t really need phosphorus to be vibrant and healthy. Choosing to go phosphorus-free for a green lawn is a simple way to help keep local water algae in check.
3. Keep Your Family Safe
If you notice algae blooms on the water, it’s usually better to be safe than sorry. Not all algae has toxic properties, but you don’t want to put your dog or kiddos at risk. And if you can’t stop your pet from diving into scummy water? Try to wash them off with soap and clean water as soon as possible.
Of course, staying smart outdoors isn’t the only concern with blue-green algae. We also want to stay on guard around the house. Beyond just an odd smell, tap water that’s sourced from high-algae areas can bring those high levels of nitrate right back to your home. These are tough contaminants to remove, and the water treatment plants aren’t always able to get the levels as low as you’d probably like. Studies suggest that nitrate exposure in drinking water can lead to serious health concerns, including birth defects and cancer. Having a good water filter (like this reverse osmosis system) can give your family peace of mind.
Local Support Protects the Environment
Working together will help us keep the White River and other Indianapolis waterways safe for the local ecosystems and our own water needs. That’s why we’re so proud to support and promote the hard work of the Hoosier Environmental Council. For over 35 years, this passionate group has been educating Indiana communities about the environmental issues that matter most.
You can also get involved with the Hoosier Environmental Council by supporting the local companies that are HEC Green Business Partners, like the team at Hoosier Scoops. If you want to spend more time enjoying your backyard—not picking up after the dogs—then Hoosier Scoops can help you out! Their work has close ties with our surrounding waterways, and their services make it easy to have a tidy and healthy lawn. In turn, that helps protect our local water sources and parks. Doing right by the environment is a team effort! Together, we can keep our communities’ resources clean and safe—for everyone to enjoy.