Toxic blue-green algae killing fish in a central Ohio park system's 10-acre pond can hopefully be held in check with the help of wind power, parks officials said.
An aluminum windmill powers a pump that feeds air through two submerged "bubblers" in Heron Pond at the Three Creeks Metro Park, according to Columbus Metro Parks officials. The park's assistant manager, Robin Blair, says the oxygen in the bubbles should help check growth of the harmful algae in the pond this summer, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
The algae found in many Ohio lakes and ponds grow thick in warm water. The algae feed on phosphorus from manure, fertilizers and sewage that rains wash into nearby streams.
Blue-green algae can create oxygen-depleted areas where fish can't live and can produce liver and nerve toxins harmful to humans.
Three Creeks park officials the algae for killing fish in Heron Pond the past two summers.
"In 2012, we had two fish kills within a week of each other," Blair said. "We lost about 1,000 fish over both kills."
Mac Albin, the park's aquatic ecologist, said the shallow Heron Pond is ideally suited for algae growth.
Harmful algae problems were first reported in the 13,000-acre Grand Lake St. Marys, Ohio's largest inland lake, in 2009. The algae also affect Lake Erie, where a record "bloom" stretched from Toledo to Cleveland in 2011.
Electric and solar-powered "aerators" similar to the Three Creeks effort are used at Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio. The aerators keep algae from growing in areas where waves and wind don't circulate the water, said Milt Miller, manager of the Grand Lake St. Marys Restoration Commission.
"They are a proven commodity," Miller said. "We want to get more and more of them."
Blair said the windmill-powered bubblers should aerate up to 5 acres of Heron Pond and she hopes to get approval to buy two more windmills next year. The first windmill installed this spring cost $3,500.
Park officials are hopeful fish will migrate to the area protected by the bubblers.
"We'll see what happens," Blair said.