Lake Erie

Bottles of Lake Erie water are tested in a lab.
Brian Bull / WCPN

Researchers at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) say they’ve begun testing water samples with the latest technology, following last summer’s water shutdown in Toledo.

Hundreds of swimmers will soon take to the lake as the weather warms up. And some swimmers will perhaps pause to ask: “How clean is the water? Are there contaminants, pollutants? Is there a risk of blue-green algae?”

Kasich Signs New Rules To Help Reduce Lake Erie Algae

Apr 2, 2015
DrGBB

Ohio's governor has put in place new rules that should help cut down on the pollutants feeding the algae in Lake Erie.

Gov. John Kasich said Thursday that the state is committed to protecting the lake, but it will take time for it to improve.

The changes are being made in response to the toxic algae that contaminated the drinking water for more than 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan eight months ago.

Ohio Getting Over $4M To Fight Toxic Algae In Lake Erie

Mar 30, 2015
Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory

The money will come from the federal the Great Lakes Restoration fund and go toward projects in the Maumee River watershed and the Sandusky River watershed in northwestern Ohio.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says much of the money will toward preventing phosphorus from getting into the lake and fueling the algae.

Some will be used to fund projects that will take cropland out of production, install field runoff retention systems and restore six miles of stream channels to their natural habitat.

Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory

Toxic blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, are a growing problem in Ohio’s lakes, and grabbed the attention of the whole country after the bacteria shut down Toledo’s water system last summer.

EurekaLott - Wikimedia Commons

A newly released study says cutting phosphorus levels is important for Lake Erie but isn't a cure-all for one of its biggest environmental hazards: "dead zones" where fish can't survive.
 
The report by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science says the lake's biggest dead zone on record formed in the summer of 2012. Phosphorus runoff from farms was partly responsible. But drought and low flows from tributary rivers were even bigger factors.
 

Brian Bull / WCPN

 A report from a conservation group names the Lake Erie watershed among the top ten “special places” that need to be protected, but not everyone agrees on what the lake and its tributaries most need to be protected from.

US Gives $3.1 Million For Lake Erie Algae Projects

Dec 18, 2014
Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is allocating $3.1 million from a Great Lakes cleanup fund for efforts to reduce harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie that hit water supplies in Michigan and Ohio.

The money will be divided among three federal agencies and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

EPA regional chief Susan Hedman says some of the projects will improve water quality testing and algae bloom forecasting. Others will expand financial assistance for agricultural conservation practices in the western Lake Erie Basin.

Collin O'Mara, President of the National Wildlife Federation, held up a glass of algae-filled water from Lake Erie after the toxins produced by the algae shut down Toledo's water system.
National Wildlife Federation Staff

Nothing brings consensus like a crisis. During Toledo’s recent drinking-water ban, conflicting ideas about how to test for toxins caused confusion for decision-makers, and hat problem sparked rare, swift action by multiple layers of government to create a uniform, statewide protocol.

DrGBB

The National Center for Water Quality Research says the mild winter and spring temperatures could mean toxic blue-green algae will make its appearance in western Lake Erie earlier than usual.

Dr. David Baker says the algae will show up sooner if the water heats up more quickly. Another critical factor will be rainfall and the amount of fertilizer that runs into the lake from nearby farms.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - An environmental coalition has awarded $115,000 in grants to nine groups for Great Lakes restoration projects.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition grants announced this week will help organizations participate in a federal program designed to improve the region's environment by cleaning up toxic pollution, preventing species invasions and rebuilding habitat and wetlands.