WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Some people say Wilmington's Greenfield Lake just is not what it used to be. Algae and invasive plants are growing out of control, turning the lake's blue waters green. It's not only a problem for the environment, but for the economy as well.
So far this summer has been a quiet one for the paddle boating business out here at greenfield lake. The problem has been Greenfield has just been too green and littered with algae.
"Every time we've been out here over the last three years we've noticed an increase in algae," said Anthony Morgan, who is visiting from Wales. "It's getting worse and worse."
It's not just an eyesore. The algae is bad for paddlers, who have little open water to work with.
"If you got into the real algae stuff the canoe almost stopped," Morgan said. "Every time you put the paddle in you were picking up algae and weed on the paddle and you had to keep cleaning off the paddle, and you were really struggling through it."
Boat rentals are a large portion of the Cape Fear River Watch's operating budget. This year, business has dropped nearly in half.
"I have so many people that come down, they take one look at the lake and they turn around," lake manager Scott Whitham said. "They just don't want to rent at that time. Frankly, I can't blame them."
Boaters say it's gotten to a point, where it's hardly worth it.
"Well you'd think twice if it got any worse," Morgan said. "You wouldn't go out if it got any worse, because you have to look for the spaces to cut through."
The source of the problem is in runoff polluted with high levels of fertilizer and nitrogen. That sends plant growth through the roof, damaging the ecosystem...
"We have seen some evidence of fishkill in here where some of the smaller species of fish have been floating on top of the muck," Whitham said. But there is some hope. The city is finally treating the lake with algaecide in hopes of clearing up the water.
"It has started to work," Whitham said. "I expect further improvements over the next few months. I think the lake will be completely clear once again."
But the pollution doesn't just stop in the lake. It also makes its way into the Cape Fear River making it all the more important to clean up Greenfield. Cape Fear River Watch says homeowners can help by switching to organic fertilizer in their yard, which has significantly lower levels of nitrogen. That helps to stop the algae growth in the lake.