Why Toxic Algae Blooms Are on the Rise Across California — and Expected to Get Worse

Rising temperatures and stagnant water generally signal trouble for human life, but they make for a great environment for the bright, blue-green scum often found in lakes, rivers and reservoirs that flourishes and blooms in hot weather.

These scum blooms, known as harmful algal blooms, are natural parts of the ecosystem, but can also release toxins that sicken or even kill people and animals. They’re becoming more common as temperatures rise and water systems are starved and disrupted, threatening not only public and wildlife health, but the state’s water supply, as well as beloved recreation areas like Lake Merritt in Oakland.

Harmful Algae Blooms Return to California Waterways

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Vallecitos Water District Employs Technology to Decrease TSS, pH and Algal Blooms

Vallecitos Water District provides 5.25 million gallons of recycled water for irrigation every day. To fulfill the demands of modern irrigation systems, it is important to maintain low TSS levels. This is a challenge during the warm months in California, as algae that occur with raising temperatures, increase the level of TSS and clog the filters that are meant to remove TSS before the distribution of water to the irrigation systems.

Vallecitos Water District is known for its’ sustainable and innovative focus when it comes to water and wastewater treatment.

Changing the (Red) Tide: Experts to Discuss Cause, Impacts of Algal Blooms

“I didn’t know what was happening — the water, usually clear and blue, was brownish red and murky.” Emily Pomeroy, a program manager with Save Our Shores, recalled a visit to Monterey’s Del Monte Beach in the summer months of 2019. “I’d heard of red tides before … but I had never seen one in person,” she said. These periods of discolored water that Pomeroy had stumbled upon can be called a “red tide” though in reality they are better known as a “harmful algal bloom.” They occur when water temperatures and nutrient levels rise, Pomeroy learned, and often lead to devastating consequences for marine life and those who depend on it.