The Boston Globe reports that the Charles River swim race might be canceled because of cyanobacterial blooms. Again. So why is this happening? Phosphorous levels are too high:
Blue-green algae are not true algae, but cyanobacteria. They are usually present in amounts so small they are harmless, but can undergo exponential growth spurts when exposed to nutrients contained in contaminants such as lawn fertilizer and Canada goose droppings that wash into waterways.
State and federal environmental officials suspect that this year’s bloom is occurring now because of optimal conditions for growth: lots of sunshine, warm water, and low water levels that concentrate nutrients. Scientists are uncertain exactly why water levels are low, but say it appears related to rainfall totals upstream and the amount of water communities are using.
I blame the geese*. Seriously. These algal blooms have been spotted in previous years up by Science Park, but now the blooms have moved down river to the Esplanade. Over the last couple of years, something else has moved downriver: geese. Two years ago, if you went out to the Esplanade on a summer day, the grass was packed with people.
Then the geese came. Actually, they were driven down river by a goose-control program at…Science Park. Funny, how animals capable of flight might move somewhere else. Now, almost nobody sits out at the Esplanade, with good reason: there’s probably five to ten goose turds per square meter–that’s fresh turds. It really is that disgusting (you definitely need a towel and a chair). The city of Boston is spending thousands and thousands of dollars to make an all-you-can-eat goose buffet and gooseshitatorium.
Get rid of the geese.
Before you feel sorry for the geese, remember they’re not an endangered species. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just pigeons that produce even more shit (1.5 lbs/adult according to the Boston Park service). Dumping 75 lbs of shit per day along a 200 yard stretch of river, a shallow stretch of river that moves very slowly in certain places, is bound to lead to algal blooms that serve as source populations (e.g., the non-river boat cut is already really turbid).
Mayor Menino, before you build your 1000 foot skyscraper, how about cleaning up the Esplanade?
*There isn’t a whole lot we can do about rainfall.