Researchers hone plans to cut phosphorus and mitigate future blooms.
By Codi Kozacek
Circle of Blue
A year after the most intense bloom of toxic algae on record engulfed Lake Erie, the lake is set to get a reprieve this summer. Federal forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict this year’s bloom will register a 5.5 in severity, about half the level recorded last year and significantly less than the bloom in 2014 that shut down water supplies for nearly half a million people in Toledo, Ohio.
Several parallels exist between the putrid algae that has sickened South Florida and the green goop that has appeared in western Lake Erie nearly every summer since 1995.
Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and western Lake Erie are both huge, but shallow, bodies of water. That shallowness keeps Lake Okeechobee warm year-round. It allows western Lake Erie to warm up relatively quickly each spring.
Both are especially prone to algal growth because of heavy agricultural runoff that gets into their tributaries.
Miles of Algae and a Multitude of Hazards
By LES NEUHAUS JULY 18, 2016
The stench of decaying algae began rising from coastal waterways in southeastern Florida early this month, shutting down businesses and beaches during a critical tourism season. Officials arrived, surveyed the toxic muck and declared states of emergency in four counties. Residents shook their heads, then their fists, organizing rallies and haranguing local officials.
In truth, there was little they could do: The disaster that engulfed the St. Lucie River and its estuary had been building for weeks. In May, a 33-square-mile algal bloom crept over Lake Okeechobee, the vast headwaters of the Everglades. After an unseasonably wet winter, the Army Corps of Engineers was forced to discharge water from the lake to lower water levels, flushing the ooze along channels to the east and west until it coagulated along the shores of the famed Treasure Coast.