Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lake Pontchartrain could be like 'pea soup'

Posted: Monday, 09 May 2011 6:27AM
The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway will have a major impact on Lake Pontchartrain in the weeks to come.

It'll take nearly a couple of weeks to open the spillway completely, but once that happens essentially all the water in the lake will be displaced by river water.  The most comparable event was in 1997, which has been studied extensively, when there was a full opening of the spillway.  

John Lopez, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation says "at that time there were widespread algal blooms across the lake.  In '97, literally the lake looked the color and consistency of pea soup, kind of a thick soupy green, just dark green color."

Lopez says it could affect the paint on boats, especially boats left in the lake for longer periods of time.  In addition to staining boats, some varieties of algae can be very toxic to humans, which in 2008 spurred health warnings.  At that time some species of algae were identified which "can have neuro-toxic affects, can affect the nervous systems for people and animals, if you are exposed to it severely."

But for now, sea life will the most affected.  The fish will be driven away to other lakes or marshes.  There is a chance for fish kills.  But, Lopez says we are unfortunately in the situation which is more conducive to algal blooms."


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