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Preventing algae blooms at Ross Island lagoon

There used to be two separate islands before they were connected sometime in the 20s.

Advocates for cleaning up the Willamette River are focusing on the lagoon at Ross Island.

People using the river think it’s a good idea.

“Each day when I have been out kayaking -- if water splashes in my mouth I spit it out. I try not to get wet. I try not to jump in,” Chris Brentlinger, kayak beginner, said.

Al Pimentel is a 15-year boating veteran on the river.

“I put my boat in the water three or four days-- and after that the bottom of my boat is brown and green. And it’s pretty gross,” he said.

Pimentel knows to stay away from the Ross Island lagoon and its toxic algae blooms.

“There’s been times when I boat over to that lagoon over there and the water is just green, and you put your foot or hand in and its everywhere,” Pimentel said. “So that is an area I avoid."

There used to be two separate islands. But way back in the ‘20’s they were connected, slowing the water and creating a lagoon.

Now, as temperatures rise and the water becomes shallow in the summer, the lagoon becomes a perfect place for nasty algae growth.

“The Ross Island Lagoon is basically a harmful algae bloom factory,” said Willie Levinson, leader of The Human Access Project and an advocate for cleaning up the Willamette.

He wants something done to get water moving through the lagoon. Ideas range from fish passages, cutting the two islands apart, pumping in water from the other side of the river, and more.

“There’s many different ways to address this. The most important thing-- is that its addressed,” he said.

The Ross Island Sand and Gravel company seems to agree. President Randall Steed issued a statement today which reads in part:

“We look forward to adding to HAP’s brainstorming efforts to find a solution to this river-wide concern.”

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