Large-scale algae blooms have returned to the Albemarle Sound, Chowan River, and other northeastern North Carolina coastal waters after being largely absent for almost 30 years.
Coastal scientists are searching for precise causes for the return of these toxic, fish-killing phenomena. Rising nutrient pollution of the state’s estuaries had made algae blooms a serious and widespread problem by the early 1980s. But during that decade, aggressive forward strides in water pollution control brought the problem under control. New controls were implemented on industrial discharges, as well as runoff from development and agriculture.
Theories for why the problem is returning now focus on the possible reoccurring increase in polluted runoff, as well as increased heat and storms associated with climate change. Thus far, funding for needed research and analysis on the causes of the blooms has not been forthcoming.
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