Algae Blooms found in Chowan River

Algae Blooms found in Chowan River
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:25 PM EDT
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - This week the State’s Department of Environmental Quality sent out an alert about an algal bloom that could be dangerous to the health of children and pets. Now scientists say this week’s heavy rains could mean we’ll see more of these blooms pop up in waterways around Eastern North Carolina.

Biologist Mark Vader Borgh with the State’s Department of Environmental Quality says after they received the report about the algal bloom between Colerain and Edenton they sent out a team to investigate.

“We responded to those blooms and we have determined they have some magnitude of toxins so we wanted to make sure a press release was sent out and that people were warned of that,” said Borgh.

DEQ aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on algae in Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Hans Paerl from UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences studies different types of algae and says the heavy rains in our forecast could put more run-off into waterways like the Chowan and that mixed with the warm temperatures provide the perfect opportunity for these algae to grow out of control.

“Initially we’ll see that everything is flushed out but don’t let that fool you because the algae are sitting in the sediments waiting to pop up and take advantage of it once the water calms down,” explained Dr. Paerl.

Algal Blooms give the water a slimly green look, and according to Dr. Paerl it can also be toxic. “You know these blooms can be harmful beyond the fact that they look bad, and they produce toxins that you can’t see or smell but they can be there. Keep your pets away from the waterways or domestic animals like cattle, and certainly keep your kids away from these events.”

If you see an algal bloom you are encouraged to report it to DEQ using their website or app. Dr. Paerl says we will likely see more and more of these algal blooms as the summer continues.

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