Tuesday, October 02, 2012

edgemont environmental club to come up with solutions to crane's pond algae problem

The Environmental Club at Edgemont High School (middle school and high school students) voted to become partners with their town government and help us solve an important community problem ---algae at Crane's Pond. I met with over 20 students this afternoon and am grateful that they will help us come up with possible solutions.

This summer the pond looked like pea soup--the water had a covering of green algae for many weeks. The students will be working with Edgemont High School Science Department chair Maria DeCandia. They also met wtih Margaret Goldberg of the Greenburgh Nature Center. The nature center will work with the students. The students will study a problem that many communities are experiencing (algae in ponds) and come up with recommendations. The National Parks Service wa...
s in the news recently. They are trying to remove a thick layer of green algae from the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial less than a month after a $34 million overhaul was completed. Who knows...if the National Parks Servivce doesn't solve the algae problem at the Lincoln Memorial, maybe they can benefit from the recommendations of the Edgemont HS Environmental Club!

This could be a win-win for everyone. The town and Edgemont school district are working cooperatively to address an important quality of life concern. Students benefit: they will learn about algae in ponds, study possible solutions, come up with recommendations and interact with town officials. They will learn about the budget process since the Town Board will have to fund their recommendations. The students will be given an opportunity to make a presentation at a televised Town Board meeting. We will benefit because adults and students will work together trying to come up with a solution to a problem. And--hopefully, we will solve a problem and implement the student suggestions.


borhani said...


Last time I looked (today), Crane Pond has duckweed, not algae. Duckweed is a plant, not an algae. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemnoideae

One glance at the images of the algae in the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool shows that it is very different (scummy, puffy, thick yellow-green accumulations on the water surface) from duckweed (a thin layer of tiny plants with little green round leaves).

In fact, as the Wikipedia article makes clear, the duckweed accumulates in the summer due to two conditions: (1) low water flow; and (2) nutrient excess (i.e., [lawn] fertilizer runoff in the water). Not only that, duckweed is a good nutrient source for birds and other animals. By the way, you'll have noticed that the duckweed in Crane Pond has decreased dramatically (and naturally) in the past few weeks, with cooler weather.

In short, I think this is a specious issue: Duckweed doesn't really need to be "controlled". Perhaps if people who are complaining that the pond looks like green pea soup were apprised of what duckweed actually is and what its benefits are could begin to see that the cup is actually (more than) half-full!

I appreciate the spirit of the students---but I think they (and their advisers Maria DeCandia and Margaret Goldberg) may need to investigate the issue a bit more before acting. There may be some slight amount of algae in Crane Pond, but the bulk of the green stuff (now mostly gone for the season) is duckweed.


David Borhani, Ph.D.
109 Ridge Road
Hartsdale, NY 10530
914-681-5199 (h)
914-217-0925 (m)
212-478-0698 (w)
Please respond to: david.borhani@alum.mit.edu