An environmental advocacy organization has announced that stormwater runoff has caused concerns over nutrient pollution in Lake Lanier for the second consecutive year.
Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, which works to protect and restore the Chattahoochee River Basin, said data collected in 2020 shows that Lake Lanier continued to receive excess nutrient levels, which are an indication of improper stormwater management. The lake contained its highest recorded levels in 2019, and 2020 wasn’t much better, the advocacy organization said.
“Chlorophyll is the main indicator used to detect algae that blooms as (a) result of excess nutrients flowing into the lake,” a statement from Chattahoochee Riverkeeper reads. “Too much algae in the water can negatively affect water quality, impact taste and smell of drinking water even after treatment, raise the cost of treating water to meet drinking water standards, and cause decreased oxygen levels that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.”
According to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division sets chlorophyll limits at five monitoring locations on the lake, and in the past two years, chlorophyll levels at all five sites exceeded state standards.
“We are working with several local governments, utilities, and other stakeholders to address this problem, but individuals who reside in the watershed have a critical role to play as well,“ Dale Caldwell, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper headwaters director, said in the statement. “Cumulative and seemingly small impacts can multiply and lead to a positive impact on this very valuable water source.”
Much of the pollution is caused by stormwater runoff from fertilizers used on lawns and farms and also include treated sewage discharges, failing septic systems and clogged sewer pipes from improper household disposal of fats, oils and grease.
How can residents living in Lake Lanier’s watershed help? Chattahoochee Riverkeeper said by limiting the amount of fertilizers put on their lawns, routinely maintaining septic systems and not pouring fats, oils and greases down the drain.