A dead zone for Lake Pontchartrain?

Chris Miller
June 24, 2019 - 12:15 pm

Blooming algae, depleted fisheries and fears of a dead zone - despite all of that, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is trying to stay optimistic as an unprecedented amount of fresh Mississippi River water continues getting dumped into the lake.

Full of fertilizer-laden farm runoff, the spillover from the Mississippi is fueling algae growth. But algae can't live forever, and when it dies and starts to decay, the worry is that it could make the lake unlivable.

"Dissolved oxygen is always something that we're worried about," said Dr. Brady Skaggs, director of the Save Our Lake foundation's water quality program. "Too much nutrients can cause the depletion of oxygen and therefore fish mortality."

Dr. Skaggs says it's hard to predict how this will all turn out, because a spillway opening this extensive has never happened before. When the spillway is closed, which is weeks to months in the future, it will take a combination of wind direction, rainfall, and other weather factors to return the lake to normal.

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