And the answer is….drum roll please…..CLADOPHORA. Our thanks go out to the folks who tried to identify the green mass depicted in the “Mystery Photo” in our newsletter and on our website. Cladophora is a naturally occurring filamentous green alga. Oh.… “alga” is not misspelled, it’s the singular of “algae”. Amy Hubbell was chosen as the winner from two correct answers. Amy will receive a gift certificate from Trish’s Dishes. Our thanks go out to Trish Kropp for providing LLLA a gift certificate for our first contest. Even if you did not win a certificate we encourage you to visit this quaint Leland establishment during your busy preparations for the Christmas season. You can order up some selections from the catering menu for your holiday parties, as you sip coffee and enjoy a yummy Danish.
So why Cladophora? Canale and Nielsen (1997) estimated that septic systems contributed 13% and 14% of the phosphorus entering North Lake Leelanau and South Lake Leelanau, respectively. This is significant, in that maintaining your septic system in proper operating order is one of the easiest ways to prevent phosphorus being released to Lake Leelanau. Likely, there have been some septic system improvements since the 1997 report. If you’re wondering how yours might be faring, Cladophora is a low-tech way to determine if your septic system might need some attention. Go to your shoreline. Inspect submerged or partially submerged logs or rocks for the green filamentous growth depicted in the photo. If you pick some up, it will feel slightly fibrous…resembling a very fine steel wool.
So what should you do if you find Cladophora growing on your shoreline? First, if you cannot remember the last time your septic tank was pumped out …”GIT-R-DONE!” as Larry the Cable guy would tell you. Contact a local septic hauler to inspect your tank and septic system, and pump out the tank. Follow any recommendations the hauler might provide. If the Cladophora does not recede over the next month or so, contact the septic folks again….it may be time to upgrade or replace your septic system.
Wayne Swallow, Water Quality Consulant