Dire consequences loom for this New Jersey lake if algal blooms come back
🌊 Deal Lake has a growing problem battling summer Algal Blooms
🌊 A deep study done by Monmouth University UCI has uncovered reasons for nutrient overload
🌊 The team of researchers has uncovered what is causing Algal Blooms to come back and what keeps them away
There is growing concern when it comes to the beauty and health of Deal Lake in Monmouth County.
A study out of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University that began in 2017, examines the seasonal cycle of nutrients in the winter and early spring and bacterial growth in the summer and early fall.
The Study's Lead Author, Jason Adolf, who is also a marine science professor at Monmouth University, explains that they focused on two key areas including what types of nutrients bring on algal blooms in warm weather.
"We know the algae is there, we wanted to know where the conditions are coming from," Adolf said.
"What we learned in this was how, over the annual cycle, nitrogen comes into our lakes from the watershed, apparently over the winter -- the cold part of the year -- and that starts things in the lakes, and then, they also need phosphorous. In the warm part of the year, the phosphorous seems to come from within the lakes with help from the sediments, we think, and as the bloom grows, it kind of changes the chemistry of the lake and causes sediments to release this phosphorous that used to grow in the water column."
The other area of focus for the study is on understanding what nutrients limit the growth of algal blooms in the lake.
"We did something called nutrient-addition biopsy where we take water from the lake during a bloom and we add different nutrients to it," Adolf said. "We add nitrogen or phosphorous or both or nothing and the answer was that when the blooms are growing on the lake -- they run out of nitrogen."
The study that began in 2017 and 2018 used DEP data, then Adolf and some of his students ran tests, and the following step included bringing in members of the community from what's called the Coastal Lakes Observing Network to gather further data and information.
"What we're trying to do now is take what was learned, from this study that was just published and other studies that we're doing and use that as leverage for restoration of the lake," Adolf said.
The big discovery gained by conducting the study was how much of an impact nitrogen is having on not just the health of algal blooms, but the overall health of Deal Lake as well.
"A lot of people talk about dredging the lake -- I can't comment directly on whether dredging is the right thing to do, but I can say now, after this, that dredging probably removed a good deal of the phosphorous that feeds harmful algal blooms in the summer," Adolf said. "It looks like, from our data, that phosphorous is coming from the sediments in the summer."
Professor Adolf implores everyone to be more conscious with what you're doing at home.
"Our observation is that nitrogen is filling lakes over the winter," Adolf said. "I hope people look at that and think about the sources of nitrogen in their homes and their life. There are lots of sources of nitrogen to these lakes -- our homes, our lawns (nitrogen fertilizers), our pets (pet waste) -- so the more we can keep that stuff out of the watershed, the better the health of the lake is going to be."
According to the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University:
"The study, “Nitrogen-Limited Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms in Deal Lake, New Jersey,” was co-authored by Katie Saldutti of the Rutgers University Department of Coastal Science; Erin Conlon of the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute; and Eric Ernst, Bill Heddendorf, Sheri Shifren and Robert Schuster of the NJDEP Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring."