The Perfect Storm for Algal Blooms in Arizona

Christopher J. Waznik.

The necessity for clean, usable freshwater has led to countless battles, both physical and legal. Water serves religious purposes, can be aesthetically beautiful, and is the foundational resource behind all life, economic development and the environment. As Leonardo da Vinci so rightly put it: “[w]ater is the driving force of all nature.” Freshwater, however, is a finite, limited resource: 97.3 percent of the earth’s water is saline; freshwater, a mere 2.7 percent.

Despite water’s paramountcy to all life, pollution and human-induced changes to ecosystems and the environment threaten to cloud and ruin much of the natural resource that is essential to our species’ very existence. For example, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is directly linked to certain unregulated water pollution practices. Similarly, the recent increase in algal blooms, particularly cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (CHABs), is a devastating result of humanity’s often callous indifference towards the environment coupled with its failure to understand and accurately predict the cumulative impact of individual choices.

Algal blooms are a menace to municipalities, states, provinces, and countries around the world and can occur in marine, estuarine, and freshwater ecosystems. The unsightly, foul nuisance damages the ecosystem, kills animals, and can cause severe adverse effects on the human body. In fact, scientists have called harmful algal blooms (HABs) “one of the most serious risks to human health in the 21st century.” It is therefore no secret that if certain practices are not limited or stopped altogether, the problem will only worsen.[…]

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