Problem In The Bay of Quinte
1 lb. Of
Phosphorus Grows 500 lbs. Of Algae
Phosphorus (P) is a naturally-occuring element,
essential to all life, present in all cells, nervous tissue and bones. In just the right amount, it’s a beneficial,
life-giving nutrient for rivers, lakes, bays, and streams. On the other hand, too much phosphorus plays
havoc with things.
In aquatic ecosystems
like the Bay of Quinte (BQ),
it’s the ability of phosphorus to
promote rapid growth that causes problems.
It takes only 1 lb. of phosphorus to grow 500 lbs. of algae! Thick,
floating algal mats cut off light and oxygen, choke out other aquatic plants
and decomposing algae and weeds take up oxygen in the water that is vital to
fish and other animals. They can also
cause taste and odour problems in drinking water. This nutrient-enrichment
process is known as eutrophication, and it’s a classic example of too much of a
When Europeans arrived in the 1700s,
the Bay of Quinte was in a balanced or “mesotrophic” state –
meaning a moderate amount of nutrients.
By the 1970s, it had changed to a “hyper-eutrophic” state – meaning an
excessive amount of nutrients. Hyper-eutrophic
is hyper-productive; runaway algal growth is stimulated by the high nutrient
At first the shift was gradual,
with land clearing and agricultural runoff playing a large part in
the process. But then it occurred in
surges as new uses for phosphates were discovered such as detergents and
Phosphorus and the Bay of Quinte fact sheet
Zebra Mussels -
It has been 20 years since the sinister little zebra mussel arrived and influenced the Bay's ecosystem. Read More...
Things You Can Do To Help
Use phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer. Fertilizer
bags have 3 numbers; the middle number is phosphorus. E.g. 10 - 0
-10 is phosphorus free.
• If you fertilize, follow the instructions and
• Restore your shorelines or stream banks (with
appropriate approvals) to prevent phosphorus-laden runoff from entering
• Plant as many trees as you can, especially near
watercourses. The web of underground roots acts as a natural screen
for phosphorus runoff.
Plant native shrubs and trees near shorelines
Wash vehicles on the lawn to prevent
phosphorus-laden soaps from entering storm sewers.
Pick up after your animals
Use soaps, detergents and cleaners that don’t
contain phosphates (TSP, DSP, MSP)If you do use soaps and detergents that
contain phosphates, follow the directions
• Compost your kitchen scraps and lawn waste and
use that as your fertilizer
Don’t over-water your lawn
• Inform others about the affects of phosphorus