Report to the Legislature:

At the request of Representative Keffer, potential research and management strategies for toxic golden algal blooms are presented. Toxic golden algae have killed millions of fish since 1985. If successful, these proposed research and management options will protect the economic and ecological values of our watersheds.

Partners

  • Brazos River Authority
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Texas Department of Health
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • University of Texas
  • U.S. Geological Survey
 

Report to the Legislature

Toxic Golden Algae in Texas - Summary
(Understanding and Managing the Toxic Golden Algal Problem)

Summary | Overview | Work Areas | Appendices

Golden Alga Threatens Texas Lakes, Rivers, and Fish Hatcheries

Toxic golden algae have killed millions of fish in Texas, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars of dead fish, lost revenues to local economies, and lost time and resources involved in responses to the fish kills. Golden algae will continue to cause problems in Texas in the future. Problems associated with toxic golden algal blooms in Texas include the following:
• Losses to local economies during the 2001 winter fish kills are estimated to exceed $18 million;
• More than 12 million fish worth nearly $4.5 million have been killed in Texas lakes, rivers, and fish hatcheries;
• Game fish such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, catfish, crappie, and rainbow trout, and threatened species including blue suckers and Rio Grande darters have been killed;
• Fish kills have occurred in reservoirs on the Brazos River system, Colorado River system, Pecos River system, and Red River system; and
• Golden algae-like cells have been identified in four additional reservoirs in the Trinity River and Sulphur River systems.

Actions to Manage Golden Algal Impacts

Potential work essential to controlling golden algae covers five broad areas over four years. Each area of work completes a different piece of the puzzle and is needed to understand how golden algal populations grow and become toxic, and how their impacts can be managed. The actions include the following:
• Understanding the biology of toxic blooms of the golden alga;
• Monitoring Possum Kingdom Reservoir to compare conditions with toxic blooms to conditions without toxic blooms;
• Investigating control options through the development, validation, and application of a sound mathematical model;
• Communicating effectively with the public about current research and management strategies; and
• Detecting, preventing, and controlling golden algal blooms in fish culture.

Problems caused by golden algae are not likely to be easily or quickly solved. Controls, particularly in lakes and rivers, may involve large-scale changes in nutrients and salt concentrations in the impacted watersheds.

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