Smelly algae invades Hamilton’s West Harbor…again
Attention, long-weekend yachtsmen: an influx of smelly floating seaweed has spurred testing in the West Harbor – again.
The city has issued a warning to residents about increasing reports of ‘suspected rotting algae’ after a resident complaint about the Desjardins Canal in Dundas, along with a call to the provincial spill action line regarding floating mud along the recreational bay.
NDP candidate for the province of Hamilton, Sandy Shaw, shared a pictures online gray mud in the harbor last weekend and noted that his office had called the provincial spill reporting line. “The people of #HamOnt are rightly concerned about sewage spills in our water! she tweeted.
The provincial environment ministry did not immediately respond to questions about the algae.
But Hamilton Water Director Nick Winters said the city checked its combined sewer outfalls and two treatment plants and found no evidence of spills or “abnormal operations.”
Either way, Winters said workers were testing water quality and taking algae samples. Early results so far suggest the floating goo is green algae – not the toxic blue-green variety that is thought to close beaches and discourage boating.
But the algae growth is nonetheless “evidence of a stressed watershed,” he said.
In general, hot, sunny days combined with high nutrient levels in the water can lead to rapid algae growth. Sewage overflows into local creeks can overload the harbor and Cootes Paradise with phosphorus and nitrogen.
While the city has found no evidence of rogue sewage spills, an overflowing sewer system in Lower Town that combines stormwater and sewage in the same pipes has overflowed 44 times this year. The city is tracking these outbursts so the public can see them online.
Early season complaints of smelly algae have plagued the city for a few years in a row. Last year, a seething, multicolored mass of dead plants chased kayakers from the popular paddling spot of Cootes Paradise in mid-April.
This spurred testing for sewage, given the proximity to the now infamous outlet of Chedoke Creek, where 24 billion liters of sewage were allowed to spill over four years. The results showed dead algae, but no poo.
In May 2020, the Department of Environment also responded to reports of a sewage smell near the Macassa Bay Yacht Club.