Young Innovators: Student studies dams to stop algal blooms

UofS algal student

In the wild, nothing seems to frighten Raea Gooding. She once ran for her life from an angry elephant in Nepal, and she has been meters away from polar bears on the tundra.

“None of these things scare me as much as the degradation of our water sources right here, right now,” said Gooding, who recently completed a master’s project at the University of Saskatchewan on improving the water quality of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Her family has a cabin on Lake Winnipeg, which in 2013 was named “the world’s most threatened lake” by Global Nature Fund.

“I have seen the degradation of Lake Winnipeg firsthand, and it is very rewarding to help find potential solutions,” Gooding said.

Algal blooms are a major concern for water quality in rivers and lakes, as well as for their potential toxicity to people and animals. Last summer, media reported that Lake Winnipeg experienced severe blooms, making it dangerous for people to swim and for animals to drink the water.

The slimy, plant-like organisms receive a growth boost when nutrients such as nitrogen in fertilizers make their way into bodies of water.

“We need to find ways to feed our communities without polluting our most important resource —  water,” Gooding said. Read more