A. Glowing Water
Bioluminescence

Just as owls have evolved to have large eyes to see in the dark and humans carry around torches or use lightbulbs, bioluminescent life forms make their own light and carry it around in their bodies. Light bulbs create light through incandescence, or using heat to emit light. This is inefficient because generating that much heat wastes energy. Luminescence doesn’t involve heat, but a chemical reaction that produces a glow, sometimes considered ‘cold light’. In the 1600’s, researchers started studying how animals make their own light.

Fungus feeding on rotting wood creates foxfire:
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Jack o lantern mushrooms mushrooms_1.jpeg

Fireflies and glow worms are bioluminescent. Even larva fireflies glow.
However, most of the world’ bioluminescence exists in the ocean. Most exist in the ‘twilight zone’ or disphotic zone, AKA where there is very little sunlight and between 660ft and 3300 feet deep. Seawater absorbs red, orange and yellow sunlight and scatters violet light, so the light that reaches the twilight zone is bluish-green in color. This is partly because blue-green light has a short wavelength, so it has more energy with which to penetrate the water. In some parts of the ocean, bioluminescent animals, not the sun, are the primary source of light.

Bioluminescence is a combination of luciferin (substance that produces light) and luciferase (an enzyme that catalyzes the reaction). Both words stem from the word lucifer, meaning 'light bringer'. It also needs the presence of oxygen or ATP. ATP is a molecule that stores and transports energy in living organisms, including humans. Luciferase enzymes have been isolated and placed in other organisms, like rats, to track cancers.

Most bioluminescent organism are in salt or brackish waters.

"Some species of single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates glow when disturbed. Tides, storms, swimming marine life and passing ships can cause large numbers of these plankton to produce light simultaneously." Not Dinoflagellates but bioluminescent bacteria are responsible for the phenomenon known as the milky sea, which causes the ocean to glow. "In some cases, this glow is so bright that it interferes with marine navigation."

"Luminous bacteria differ from the more commonly known bioluminescent dinoflagellates, which are responsible for the glow occasionally produced in ships' wakes or in waves crashing on the shore during a red tide bloom. Dinoflagellates emit short flashes of light, while bioluminescent bacteria produce a faint, sustained glow. Since these tiny bacteria only emit a very faint light on their own, they have to gather together to make much of an impact. Their collective glow can grow to massive, milky sea proportions when their numbers swell to a huge amount -- think 40 billion trillion." It is still unknown why the bacteria swells together in the masses.


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"Milky seas, or mareel, is a condition on the open ocean where large areas of seawater (up to 6,000 square miles) are filled with bioluminescent bacteria, causing the ocean to uniformly glow an eerie blue at night." Mariners have been reporting them since the 1700's. There are 235 documented sightings since 1915, most being in the NW Indian Ocean and near Indonesia. It was discovered in 1985 that some cases are caused by the bacteria 'Vibrio harveyi'. It only grows between 4C and 35C and typically in tropical marine waters. In 2005, Steven Miller of the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California matched a satellite image with sightings to discover a milky area roughly the size of Connecticut that glowed for three nights. The light from the bacteria is blue, but can sometimes appear white because humans have a rod in their eye for night vision can't discriminate color.

Though called "milky sea" in English, in Scotland it's named 'mareel', which is derived from the Old Norse words for marr ("sea") and eldr ("fire"). Versions: Danish 'morild', Norwegian 'moreld', Swedish 'mareld', and Finnish 'merituli'. Mareels happening in the Scandinavian are sometimes green.

Wilson, Tracy V.. "How Bioluminescence Works" 10 July 2007. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://animals.howstuffworks.com/animal-facts/bioluminescence.htm> 30 September 2014.
Hedquist, Chelsea. "What is the \u0022milky sea\u0022 phenomenon?" 23 February 2011. HowStuffWorks.com.<http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/milky-sea.htm> 30 September 2014.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_seas_effect

A.1 Decontaminating
Since algae would most likely be the cause of the bio-luminescent water the best way to stop the glowing would be to kill the algae and the best way to kill algae would be some sort of algaecide. The most common forms of algaecide are often used in pools and not drinking water. Algaecide is basically a biocide like pesticide. Pesticide gives fruit a small biocide quality to prevent bugs and microorganisms from making the fruit their home. However that small biocide quality will effect a human that eats the fruit, not as much as a small bug, but it will endanger their health none the less. The main difference between pesticide and algaecide is pesticide can be washed off prior to consumption algaecide cannot be separated from the water once it’s in (baring the possibility of distilling). Also unless algaecide is placed in the entire river the algaecide would only effect the water once it is isolated from the main water body and left to “cook” if not consumed shortly after the algaecide is introduced. The algaecide therefore has to do more in a shorter period of time requiring it to increase its biocide quality and making the water even less drinkable.

To sum things up: even with modern technology we cannot create a magical drop of liquid that will quickly kill algae in a glass of water without harming anyone who takes a drink. The only reason someone would look to something like this was if they were convinced the harmful effects were better than the effect of drinking the water without the “miracle cure”.