Your article on toxic blue-green algae in our rivers touched only briefly on the causes of this growing problem ("A Deadly Scum," Aug. 13). Failing septic systems and fertilizer runoff are noted as two of those causes, and they point to the fatal flaw in the pro-growth vision for unincorporated areas of Humboldt County espoused by Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights and others.
Our river ecosystems are in fact dying of a thousand cuts, most of them tied to our land use practices. Sedimentation from unpaved roads and slurping of ever-greater amounts of surface and ground water for homesteads don't help the rivers either. Of course we can and must improve practices to gradually mitigate these impacts, but we've got an emergency on our hands here. Stronger measures are called for, and reining in rural sprawl should be at the top of our to-do list.
Richard Engel, Arcata
Sweet Spot:* Let's give Richard Engel at least this much — he eschews both bureaucratese and racial know-nothingism. He wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week. *