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Water and Wastewater

Seasonal Shoreline Algae

 

About Shoreline Algae | Weekly Algae Photos
Shoreline Algae FAQ | A Healthy Lake Ontario

Shoreline Algae - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. There is an awful smell outside of my home/along the Lakeshore, where is it coming from?
  2. What is Cladophora?
  3. Are the algae harmful to my health?
  4. What is the Region of Peel doing to find solutions to the algae problem?
  5. Can the algae be cleaned up?
  6. Is there no solution to this form of algae?
  7. What can I do?
  8. Is Peel the only place affected by shoreline algae?

1. There is an awful smell outside of my home/along the Lakeshore, where is it coming from?

The odours you are experiencing come from a naturally occurring algae called Cladophora that have floated into shore and have begun decaying.

2. What is Cladophora?

Cladophora are green algae that thrive on phosphorus and other nutrients in Lake Ontario. This form of algae reaches peak growth from May to July, covering the rocky bottom along the shoreline of the lake.

When the water temperature rises, the algae begin to die and loosen from the bottom. Strong winds and waves detach large quantities that become floating masses that can lodge on shore and begin to decay. The decaying algae cause the unpleasant odour.

3. Are the algae harmful to my health?

No, Cladophora is not a health issue. The decaying algae can cause unpleasant odours and can form large organic deposits along shoreline areas but will not negatively impact your health.

4. What is the Region of Peel doing to find solutions to the algae problem?

The Region has been working with the Ontario Water Works Research Consortium (OWWRC), The University of Waterloo, the Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada and the Ontario Clean Water Agency to both research this phenomenon and to develop control strategies.

5. Can the algae be cleaned up?

Based on research, conducted by the OWWRC partners, it has become clear that there is no short-term solution to shoreline algae. Over the past 5 years, various attempts have been made to physically remove the algae but the results have been ineffective and extremely expensive.

6. Is there no solution to this form of algae?

Shoreline algae reduction is a long-term process. There is no short-term solution to shoreline algae and no quick, cost effective solution to shoreline algae accumulation and disposal.

The current research is focused on reducing nutrient levels (specifically phosphorus) in Lake Ontario which will help to reduce algae growth as phosphorus is Cladophora’s main food source.

7. What can I do?

Steps to prevent the known causes of the algae, such as control of high levels of nutrients in the lake are something residents can assist with. Though it will not solve the algae problem, it will help.

  • Avoid washing your car in the driveway – the soap will run into the storm sewer and from there into Lake Ontario
  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn – the fertilizer will travel into the storm sewer when it rains or when you water your lawn
  • Pick up after your pets

8. Is Peel the only place affected by shoreline algae?

No, most municipalities who border Lake Ontario are dealing with Cladophora, Toronto and Halton have similar if not increased amounts of algae along their shoreline.

Lake Ontario is not the only great lake that is affected, Lake Huron and Lake Erie also has problem areas.

Revised: Thursday August 26 2010

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