The hunt is on for viable solutions to the algae problem in Candlewood Lake.

Phyllis Schaer, chairwoman of the Candlewood Lake Authority, said she has found a technique in which solar-powered, ultrasound units zap the blue-green algae and control it.

"It has been used in Europe and Asia and is just now beginning to be used more extensively in the States," Schaer said. "It is more environmentally friendly than other possible options."

"We need to watch and see how this technique progresses," she added, "as it might be a potential solution for Candlewood Lake."

Submerged transducers (boxes emitting ultrasonic waves) are placed throughout the lake, powered by land-mounted solar panels, to rupture the gas vesicles in certain algae strains.

One manufacturer of these sonic units is SonicSolutions in Mokena, Il. The SonicSolutions system was tested by the Center for Costal Studies, Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi.

Paul V. Zimba, the director of the center, conducted the research.

Zimba said the equipment can be "more or less effective" but only on a particular strain of blue-green algae.

"It would depend on whether (Candlewood Lake) has the microcystis strain of the blue-green algae," Zimba said, "as to whether ultrasound units would work."

He tested the units in Lakeview Park Pond, a city pond in Texas, and in Mississippi in aqua-culture ponds like the ones used to commercially breed catfish.

"Basically, the ultrasound causes the algae to collapse internally and they sink to the bottom of the body of water," Zimba explained. "At the lake bottom, the algae can't photosynthesize. They stop producing toxins and at some point they die."

Zimba said using ultrasound units is really "putting a band-aid on the (blue-green algae) problem."

Controlling the increase in nutrients going into the lake would be the actual solution to maintaining the lake's health, he said.

Dennis Schaine, spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was cautious in his evaluation.

"Blue-Green algae in Candlewood Lake and other lakes in the state certainly is of concern to us," Schaine said. "We would have to look more carefully at this approach to see how effective it can be and any effects it might have on the ecosystem and aquatic life of the lake."

Before the use of solar powered ultrasound units were to go forward, he added, it would require careful review and permitting by the DEEP.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322.