Watershed management strategies to prevent and control cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 619)


The tenets of watershed management – a focus on the land area linked to the water body, the incorporation of sound scientific information into the decision-making process and stakeholder involvement throughout the process – are well-suited for the management of cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (C-HABs). The management of C-HABs can be viewed as having two main areas of focus. First, there is mitigation – control and/or removal of the bloom. This type of crisis response is an important component to managing active C-HABs and there are several techniques that have been successfully utilized, including the application of algicides, physical removal of surface scums and the mechanical mixing of the water column. While these methods are valuable because they address the immediate problem, they do not address the conditions that exist in the system that promote and maintain C-HABs. Thus, the second component of a successful C-HAB management strategy would include a focus on prevention. C-HABs require nutrients to fuel their growth and are often favored in longer-residence time systems with vertical stratification of the water column. Consequently, nutrients and hydrology are the two factors most commonly identified as the targets for prevention of C-HABs. Management strategies to control the sources, transformation and delivery of the primary growth-limiting nutrients have been applied with success in many areas. The most effective of these include controlling land use, maintaining the integrity of the landscape and applying best management practices. In the past, notable successes in managing C-HABs have relied on the reduction of nutrients from point-sources. Because many point sources are now well-managed, current efforts are focused on non-point source nutrient reduction, such as runoff from agricultural and urban areas. Non-point sources present significant challenges due to their diffuse nature. Regardless of which techniques are utilized, effective watershed management programs for decreasing the prevalence of C-HABs will require continuing efforts to integrate science and management activities. Ultimately, it is increased coordination among stakeholders and scientists that will lead to the development of the decision-making tools that managers require to effectively weigh the costs and benefits of these programs.


Watershed Management Urban Watershed Nutrient Export Neuse River Estuary Pervious Pavement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beach D (2002) Coastal Sprawl: The effects of urban design on aquatic ecosystems in the United States. Pew Oceans Commission, Arlington, VA.Google Scholar
  2. Boesch DF, Burroughs R H, Baker JE, Mason RP, Rowe CL, Seifert RL (2001) Marine Pollution in the United States: Significant accomplishments, future challenges. Pew Oceans Commission, Arlington, VA.Google Scholar
  3. Cestti R, Srivastava J, Jung S (2003) Agriculture Non-Point Source Pollution Control: Good Management Practices – The Chesapeake Bay Experience. 54 pages, World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  4. Chorus I, Bartram J (1999) Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water. E&F Spon, London, 416 PP.Google Scholar
  5. Correll DL, Jordan TE, Weller DE (1994) The Chesapeake Bay watersheds: Effects of land use and geology on dissolved nitrogen concentrations. Pages 639-648 in Toward a Sustainable Coastal Watershed: The Chesapeake Experiment. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Norfolk, VA.Google Scholar
  6. Craft CB, Broome SW, Seneca ED (1989) Exchange of nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic carbon between transplanted marshes and estuarine waters. J. Environ. Qual. 18, 206-211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davenport TE (2002) The Watershed Project Management Guide. CRC Press, New York. 296pp.Google Scholar
  8. Edmondson WT, Lehman JT (1981) The effect of changes in the nutrient income and conditions of Lake Washington. Limnol Oceanogr 26:1-29Google Scholar
  9. Elmgren R, Larsson U (2001) Nitrogen and the Baltic Sea: Managing nitrogen in relation to phosphorus. The Scientific World 1(S2): 371-377Google Scholar
  10. Groffman PM, Bain DJ, Band LE, Belt KT, Brush GS, Grove JM, Pouyat RV, Yesilonis IC, Zipperer WC (2003) Down by the riverside: urban riparian ecology. Front. Ecol. Environ. 1(6), 315-321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hill P, Nelson S (1995) Toward a Sustainable Coastal Watershed: The Chesapeake Experiment. Proceedings of a Conference 1-3 June 1994. Chesapeake Research Consortium Publication No. 149.Google Scholar
  12. Jacobs TC, Gilliam JW (1985) Riparian losses of nitrate from agricultural drainage waters. J. Environ. Qual. 14, 472-478.Google Scholar
  13. Jeppesen E, Sondergaard M, Jensen JP, Havens KE, Anneville O, Carvalho L, Coveney MF, Deneke R, Dokulil MT, Foy B, Gerdeaux D, Hampton SE, Hilt S, Kangur K, Kohler J, Lammens E, Lauridsen TL, Manca M, Miracle MR, Moss B, Noges P, Persson G, Phillips G, Portielje R, Schelske CL, Straile D, Tatrai I, Willen E, Winder M (2005) Lake responses to reduced nutrient loading – an analysis of contemporary long-term data from 35 case studies. Freshwater Biology 50:1747-1771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jones GJ, Orr PT (1994) Release and degradation of microcystin following algicide treatment of a Microcystis aeruginosa bloom in a recreational lake, as determined by HPLC and protein phosphostase inhibition assay. Water Research 28: 871-876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kenefick Sl, Hrudey SE, Peterson HG, Prepas EE (1992) Toxin release from Microcystis aeruginosa after chemical treatment. Water Science and Technology 27:433-440.Google Scholar
  16. La Peyre MK., Reams MA, Mendelssohn IA (2001) Linking actions to outcomes in wetland management: An overview of US state wetland management. Wetlands 21, 66-74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Likens GE (ed) (1972) Nutrients and Eutrophication. American Soc Limnol Oceanogr Special Symp 1Google Scholar
  18. Lilly JP (1991) Best management practices for agricultural nutrients. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.Google Scholar
  19. Line DE, White NM, Osmond DL, Jennings GD, Mojonnier CB (2002). Pollutant Export from Various Land Uses in North Carolina. Water Environ. Res. 14, 100-108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maier HR, Burch MD, Bormans M (2001) Flow management strategies to control blooms of the cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis, in the River Murray at Morgan, South Australia. Regulated Rivers-Research and Management. 17:637-650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marsden MW (1989) Lake restoration by reducing external phosphorus loading – The influence of sediment phosphorus release. Freshwater Biology 21:139-162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. MDBC (1993) Algal management strategy and technical advisory group report. Murray-Darling Basin Commission. Canberra, Australia.Google Scholar
  23. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2000) Wetlands, 3rd edition. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, NY.Google Scholar
  24. National Research Council (2000) Clean Coastal Waters. National Academy Press, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  25. Novotny V (2002) Water Quality: Diffuse Pollution and Watershed Management 888 pp, John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  26. NSWBGATF (1993) Blue-green algae. First Annual Report of the NSWBGATF, New South Wales Department of Water Resources. Parramatta, Australia.Google Scholar
  27. Paerl HW (1997) Coastal eutrophication and harmful algal blooms: Importance of atmospheric deposition and groundwater as “new” nitrogen and other nutrient sources. Limnol. Oceanogr. 42, 1154-1165.Google Scholar
  28. Paerl HW, Valdes LM, Piehler MF, Lebo ME (2004) Solving problems resulting from solutions: The evolution of a dual nutrient management strategy for the eutrophying Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina, USA. Environmental Science & Technology 38:3068-3073CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Peterson BJ, Wollheim BM, Mulholland PJ, Webster JR, Meyer JL, Tank JL, Marti E, Bowden WB, Valett HM, Hershey AE, McDowell WH, Dodds WK, Hamilton SK, Gregory S, Morrall DD (2001) Control of nitrogen export from watersheds by headwater streams. Science 292, 86-89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Piehler MF, Dyble J, Moisander PH, Pinckney JL, Paerl HW (2002) Effects of modified nutrient concentrations and ratios on the structure and function of the native phytoplankton community in the Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina USA. Aquat. Ecol. 36, 371-385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Reddy KR, Gale PM (1994) Wetland processes and water quality: A symposium overview. J. Environ. Qual. 23:875-877.Google Scholar
  32. Schueler T, Holland HK (2000) The Practice of Watershed Protection. Center for Watershed Protection, Ellicot City, MD.Google Scholar
  33. Smith VH (1983) Low nitrogen to phosphorus ratios favor dominance by blue green algae in lake phytoplankton. Science 221:669 671PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sondergaard M, Jensen JP, Jeppesen E (2003) Role of sediment and internal loading of phosphorus in shallow lakes. Hydrobiologia 506:135-145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spruill TB (2004) Effectiveness of riparian buffers in controlling ground-water discharge of nitrate to streams in selected hydrogeologic settings of the North Carolina Coastal Plain. Water Science & Technology 49:63–70.Google Scholar
  36. Trobulak SC, Frissell CA (2000) Review of ecological effects of roads and terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conservation Biology 14(1) 18-30.Google Scholar
  37. US Environmental Protection Agency (1996) Watershed Framework Approach. EPA Report 840-S-96-001.Google Scholar
  38. US EPA (2003) Watershed Analysis and Management (WAM) Guide for States and Communities. EPA 841-B-03-007.Google Scholar
  39. Vitousek PM, Mooney HA (1997) Estimates of coastal populations. Science 278, 1211-1212.Google Scholar
  40. Vitousek PM, Mooney HA, Lubchenco J, Melillo JM (1997) Human domination of earth’s ecosystems. Science 277:494–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Watson SB, McCauley E, Downing JA (1997) Patterns in phytoplankton taxonomic composition across temperate lakes of differing nutrient status. Limnology and Oceanography 42:487-495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Williams JE, Wood CA, Dombeck MP (eds) (1997) Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices. 549 pp, American Fisheries Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Personalised recommendations