Editor’s note: The following letter is in regard to the article “Residents Complain About Weeds In Royal Palm Canals,” published last week.
Uncontrolled weed and algal growth in all of the canals, rivers, lakes, lagoons and coastal waters is due to one thing and one thing only: excess primary plant nutrients. Namely, this is our excess use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. The need to grow greener lawns, perfect putting greens or an extra bushel of tomatoes per acre et cetera ad naseum fosters excessive fertilization. Add to this the uncontrolled regulation and, if regulated, then unenforced spreading and stockpiling of equestrian wastes (urine soaked bedding plus manure), and we reap what we sow; algal and subaquatic vegetation (SAV) blooms.
To control this problem, what do we do? Use toxic chemicals to kill the weeds. This then exacerbates the problem in several ways. First, we put non-natural chemicals into the environment, which interfere with cellular life processes. You and I have cells, too, you know! Second, the smell and floating weeds interfere with the enjoyment of waterways, as noted in the article cited above. Lastly, the plant/algal biomass that does not float sinks to the bottom. Both the floating, but especially the sunk biomass, undergoes aerobic degradation depleting the oxygen content (hypoxia to anoxia) of the water, and this can and does lead to fish kills. If the phosphorous pollution upsets the natural balance of nitrogen/phosphorous ratios, toxic cyanobacterial (aka blue-green algae) blooms can and do occur. Note the St. Lucie River just up the coast.
Get the causes, nutrient/chemical pollution, and you will not need to complain about the results. I thank you for your future considering of our environment, present and future.
Dr. J. William Louda
Editor’s note: Dr. Louda is a senior scientist and professor of environmental chemistry at Florida Atlantic University.