What Causes the Foaming on our Lakes?
The foaming of surface waters on lakes is not a new phenomenon. It is a natural process that has been going on for a long time. All lakes contain organic matter, such as algae, rooted aquatic plants and leaves. When this organic matter decomposes through natural bacterial action, it releases cellular products to the water, which form a surfactant, or surface agent. A surfactant simply lessens the surface tension of the water, making it susceptible to foaming. When the wind blows, the waves on the lake agitate this surface agent, thus transforming it into sudsy white foam.
Natural foam is most noticeable along beaches exposed to the prevailing wind direction. When the foam reaches the shoreline, it tends to form a loose line where it mixes with tiny pieces of organic matter, which act as a binding agent and give it stability.
Is it Harmful?
No! Foam on surface waters is a harmless by-product of our lakes. Its chemical makeup is 99 per cent air and water, combined with one per cent or less surfactant.
What Causes Harmful Foam?
Phosphorus, contained in most detergents, will contribute to the foaming of surface waters. Dishwasher detergents have been proven to be particularly high in phosphorus.