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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;619:259-73.

Watershed management strategies to prevent and control cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms.

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute of Marine Sciences, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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