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Algae -- Too Much of a Good Thing

posted Jul 11, 2016, 8:37 AM by Pike Lake Webmaster   [ updated Jul 11, 2016, 8:43 AM ]

RIDEAU VALLEY, July 11, 2016 —  Have you noticed an excess of green algae on your lake or river this spring?  Algae and aquatic plants play an important role in maintaining the health of our waterbodies. But when you have too much — it can negatively impact recreational use and threaten our aquatic ecosystems.Excessive algae and aquatic plant growth can have natural causes like warm water and air temperatures, early ice-off dates, strong sunlight exposure and extended periods of calm water. Quite often, excessive growth can be caused by high levels of available nutrients — both naturally occurring and man-made.While we have little control over the natural causes of excessive algae growth, there a number of things landowners can do to make sure they are not contributing excess nutrients to our lakes and rivers:

1) Good septic system maintenance — In addition to being a source of potentially harmful bacteria, malfunctioning septic systems can release high levels of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen into our waterways. Property owners should have their private sewage systems inspected and pumped every three to five years. Be sure to watch for warning signs of a leaky septic like foul odours, soggy areas and unusually lush grass around leaching beds. Better yet, if you live in Rideau lake country, contact the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office for more information or to book a septic inspection.

2) Increase plant cover on your property — Native trees and shrubs are especially important along shoreline areas — so keep it natural by creating a “no-mow” zone along 75 percent of your shoreline frontage and plant deep-rooted, native tree and shrubs.  Vegetation helps by taking up and filtering out excess nutrients entering the water through run-off, increasing infiltration and shading waterbodies. Need help?  RVCA’s Shoreline Naturalization Program can help by providing site visits, custom planting plans, native plants and assistance with planting.

3) Reduce your runoff — Every time it rains, water “runs-off” hardened surfaces on your property picking up contaminants and adding warm, polluted stormwater to our waterbodies.  You can reduce runoff on your property by reducing hardened surfaces including paved walkways and even turf grass, installing rain barrels, encouraging infiltration through grassed swales, rain gardens and soak away pits and maintaining a strip of vegetation along your shoreline.

Want to learn more about algae and aquatic plants and what you can do to reduce your impact?  Visit to review the new booklet Algae and Aquatic Plant Educational Manual funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. For more information on algae and aquatic plant growth, contact Kaitlin.Brady@rvca.ca613-692-3571 ext. 1154.

To book a free site visit through the Shoreline Naturalization Program contact- Meaghan.Mcdonald@rvca.ca613-692-3571 ext. 1192.

For information on septic inspections in lake country, contact Eric Kohlsmith at ekohlsmith@mvc.on.ca613-253-0006 ext. 256