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Algaecide Research

All natural waters contain organisms such as bacteria, algae, cyanobacteria, and diatoms. When the balance of these organisms becomes disrupted, it allows one or a few to grow too quickly, also known as a bloom.  Blooms that have cyanobacteria present are often referred to has harmful algal blooms (HABs), since they might contain cyanobacteria that may have the potential to cause harm to people and animals. Not all cyanobacteria are capable of producing these harmful compounds.  Although not all blooms may be harmful, cyanobacterial blooms can cause other aesthetic problems, such as musky taste and odor in both natural and tap waters or unappealing scums on natural water bodies.  If a large bloom is present steps must be taken to decrease the size and minimize further growth.  Applying algaecides is a common and approved method for treating blooms in a reservoir and lakes. Research, sponsored by Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative from the Ohio Department of Higher Education, was performed by a team from the University of Akron and Watershed personnel.

Cyanobacteria were collected and concentrated to mimic bloom conditions to test algaecides in a small-scale laboratory experiment.  Three different algaecides, two copper-based and one peroxide based, were tested at three different strengths for use in Lake Rockwell.  The most commonly used algaecides all contain copper, which has antibacterial properties.  Another variety of algaecides contains peroxide, an oxidant, which damages cells so that they cannot reproduce.  Determining the best type and strength of algaecide to use in Lake Rockwell will enable blooms to be managed without further disrupting the balance of the ecosystem.

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