Four floating wetlands were installed in algae hotspots last week.
“We want to come here, and you know, maintain a healthy reservoir,” said Gaffney Water Plant Superintendent Bryant Fleming.
Lake Whelchel is Cherokee County’s main water source, but over the years, there have been some problems with algae blooms. Fleming said the blooms can be harmful to people and animals.
“Tthe last few years, we’ve noticed a slight increase in our algae counts and we noticed we were having taste and odor issues,” said Fleming.
Fleming said, at times, it even caused them to shut down the lake. He said algae is caused by nutrients coming into the water.
“The agricultural runoff and residential runoff of fertilizer was our problem, so what we did is we’ve put the floating wetlands in and we’re doing that to have it consume the nutrients,” said Fleming.
He believes floating wetlands could be the solution. Fleming said it’s a natural option, rather than using an algaecide.
“The more we looked at it, we’re like, we wanted to think about not just now, but in the future, so we wanted to find an eco-friendly way,” said Fleming.
Fleming also said they’ve partnered with Clemson for the project and hope to determine which plants perform best.
“At the end of the summer, we’ll analyze each floating wetlands, the different plant life, and see which consumed more and then we’ll expand that in the future,” said Fleming.
As the plants grow, they’ll be monitored, but Fleming said he’s hopeful it will work and keep algae at bay this summer.
“I really am excited to see what kind of numbers we get with the different plant life and how far we can expand it,” said Fleming.
Fleming said the plants on the wetlands will eventually be planted along creek beds to continue to take in nutrients. Based on their findings, new plants will be added to the wetlands next season. He also said they’re trying several approaches to algae control, including a pilot study using a new product that is also being used in Tampa Bay, Florida.