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Lyngbya Q&A: Did sewage spills encourage the outbreak?

Q: After more than a dozen sewage spills in Cornelius waters over the past three years, is there a relationship between these spills and the Lyngbya outbreak?

A: No, the sewer spills that have plagued that area probably have little effect on the Lyngbya growth. Lyngbya doesn’t use the available nutrients in the water column, but it utilizes the legacy nutrients in the sediment or are able to fix their own Nitrogen. An overflow would more likely cause a brief plankton bloom, not long-term Lyngbya growth….coupled with the fact that many of the overflow affected coves are not currently experiencing Lyngbya growth.

—Matthew Phillips, environmental specialist
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services

CMSWS is charged with maintaining and restoring the quality and usability of the county’s surface water resources, including over 3,000 miles of streams in two river basins and 190 miles of shoreline in three of the 11 lakes that comprise the Catawba River System. Some of the activities performed by the program include water quality monitoring; identification and elimination of pollution sources; inspection of wastewater treatment plants; responding to citizen requests for service and emergency situations; public education and involvement regarding water quality protection; enforcement of local water quality ordinances; water quality modeling; and development and implementation of watershed management plans.