Harmful algal blooms in South Carolina residential and golf course ponds

Alan J. Lewitus, Laura B. Schmidt, Larissa J. Mason, Jason W. Kempton, Susan B. Wilde, Jennifer L. Wolny, B. Jamie Williams, Kenneth C. Hayes, Sabrina N. Hymel, Charles J. Keppler, Amy H. Ringwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The South Carolina coastal zone is among the fastest growing areas in the U.S., and population epicenters are marked by dense brackish water pond (lagoon) coverage associated with housing complexes and golf courses. Surveillance efforts in 2001-2002 documented the widespread occurrence of several types of potentially or measurably toxic harmful algal blooms (HABs) in these ponds. These man-made retention ponds were constructed in order to serve as a buffer between developed areas and open estuaries or for aesthetic reasons. However, the combination of restricted tidal flow and nutrient and/or contaminant deposition creates a stimulatory environment for potential HAB formation. These discoveries introduce the need to consider mitigation measures to existing ponds and HAB preventive strategies for future pond construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-413
Number of pages27
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the following people for their contributions to this study: Sam Baughman, Russell Berry, Jake Bickley, Megan Cook, Marie DeLorenzo, Brett Epps, Jennifer Keesee, Ian Moody, Andrew Shuler, Aaron Shurtleff, Tom Siewicki, Raph Tymowski, and Priscilla Wendt. Robert Ball and Fred Holland provided encouragement and support. We also thank Jen Hoguet and Angela Rourk for help with the oyster bioassays, JoAnn Burkholder, Howard Glasgow, and Nora Deamer-Melia for Pfiesteria fish mortality bioassays, Carm Tomas for help with raphidophyte identification, and Karen Steidinger for help with Kryptoperidinium sp. identification. We are grateful for the help of Alessandra Delfico and Sally Krebs in providing critical information about Hilton Head Island, and Norm Shea for his unrelenting support and voluminous data on Kiawah Island. This research was funded by the U.S. ECOHAB Program, sponsored by NOAA/NSF/EPA/NASA/ONR, grant NA86OP0493, NOAA grants NA90AA-D-SG672, NA06OA0675, and NA86RG0052, CDC and EPA grants to SCDHEC, and EPA grant R826944-01-0. Contribution 1331 of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine Biology and Coastal Research, Contribution 504 of SCDNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute, ECOHAB Contribution 67.


  • Biotoxins
  • Golf course ponds
  • Harmful algal blooms
  • Nutrient loading
  • Phytoplankton
  • Residential development
  • Retention ponds


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