EDITOR'S NOTE: This series provides deep context on algal blooms, the problems they create and what causes them. Check out the other infographics about algal blooms' growing threat, what causes them and their potential toxic hazards. And something new to note: a big dose of fertilizer and manure runoff from US factory farms is tied to the NOAA announcement of a record-setting Gulf of Mexico dead zone in 2017.
As Algal Doom spreads with the rise of harmful algal blooms (HABs), everyone - from scientists to public officials, farmers to water treatment managers, boaters to environmentalists - is casting a wary eye toward "colorful" changes in their local waters. The prevalence of algal blooms make them hard to miss. Since toxic algae fouls water in every part of the United States (and the world) the problem is on the radar of increasing numbers of people.
Because clean water is the foundation of a flourishing society, reducing the nutrient pollution that causes algal blooms has become a national priority. Wherever land use by humans is concentrated, especially when it comes to factory farms and highly developed urban and suburban areas, there is a good possibility that nutrient runoff is producing a HAB crisis. The good news is that numerous solutions are being deployed, such as ending the overuse of farm fertilizers and managing the overabundance of animal waste, as well as ending high nutrient level discharges from wastewater treatment plants and leaky septic systems.
Check out the infographic below to see a tiny fraction of the most recent (and reoccuring) algal bloom hot spots mapped out across the United States.
Originally published 9/13/16.