Toxic Algae

Algae Forecast Grim This Year For Lake Erie

Jul 10, 2015
Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an especially bad year for Lake Erie algae. But that doesn't necessarily mean there will be more water shutdowns like the one in Toledo last year.

The updated forecast for this year’s algae bloom in western Lake Erie is grim. NOAA scientist Rick Stumpf says the bloom will undoubtedly be worse than last year.

"We are looking at more severe than 2014, not as bad as 2011," he said. "But potentially this could be the second worst bloom that we have seen on Lake Erie."

Help Is On The Way To Fight Algae Blooms In Lake Erie

Jul 3, 2015
Karen Schaefer

After June's record-breaking rain, communities in western Lake Erie are bracing for another bad year for algae blooms. But help is on the way. A new federally-funded, tri-state initiative to help farmers reduce fertilizer run-off is ready to take the battle against algae to a new level.

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?”

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.

Farm Bureau Wants to Avoid Unintended Consequences with Water Quality Proposals

Feb 4, 2015
Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory

Gov. John Kasich included cleaning up Lake Erie as a priority in his two-year budget proposal, and farmers seem ready to work with the governor—to a point.

To reduce the amount of harmful algae growth in Lake Erie and other public waterways, the governor’s office proposes banning the use of manure on frozen or rain-saturated farmland, among other measures.

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.

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.

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

Ohio lawmakers are preparing to go back to work and take on more pieces of legislation before the year ends. One of those issues includes improving water quality.

While speaking at a post-election conference, Republican Representative Dave Hall of Millersburg says that he doesn’t want to waste any time. The agriculture and natural resources committee he chairs will hold hearings next week on a bill that tackles many different issues including toxic algae problems.

Senator Sherrod Brown (right) compared algae-filled water with clear water on a recent visit to Stone Lab on Lake Erie. Researcher Justin Chaffin is on the left.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

Ohio’s U.S. Senators have introduced two bills that address the problems with toxic microcystins, a result of the bacteria known as blue-green algae, in the state’s waters. Toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie caused a two-day shutdown of Toledo’s water system in August, and algal blooms have been reported in lakes around the state including Grand Lake St. Mary’s and Buckeye Lake.

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.