Stone Lab: The Science and Beauty of Lake Erie

DALE BOWMAN 08/28/2016, 07:36am

Stone Laboratory is both a place of serious research and a place of beauty on Gibraltar Island on Lake Erie, which includes Perry's Lookout. Credit: Dale Bowman

Stone Laboratory is both a place of serious research and a place of beauty on Gibraltar Island on Lake Erie, which includes Perry’s Lookout.

Credit: Dale Bowman

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio–You gotta have a Lab for your HAB.

Good thing Lake Erie has Stone Laboratory, oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States (1929).

Cooke Castle. Credit: Dale Bowman
Cooke Castle.
Credit: Dale Bowman

What first caught my attention about Stone Lab had nothing to do with science. While fishing for smallmouth bass about 15 years ago off South Bass Island, I was drawn to a small island (Gibraltar) with a barely visible mansion (Jay Cooke Mansion). Small islands pull at me.

But Stone Lab is more than scenic, though it is, including a natural arch, “Eye of the Needle,’’ and Perry’s Lookout from the Battle of Lake Erie. As a campus for Ohio State University and site for Ohio Sea Grant studies, Stone Lab has been central to much Great Lakes research.

That research assumed more than scholarly importance when Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) rocketed into international news with toxins shutting off drinking water to 400,000 in the Toledo area in 2014.

I jumped at the chance for a two-day conference there, focused on HAB, earlier this month.

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As toxic algae bloom spreads, will Michigan add Lake Erie to impaired list?

Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.comBy Garret Ellison | gellison@mlive.com
on August 25, 2016 at 9:05 AM

LANSING, MI — As this summer’s harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie grows in toxicity, Michigan environmental regulators are still reviewing whether to add the state’s portion of the lake to a list of impaired waters that was supposed to be in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s hands this spring.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it’s in “discussions with both internal and external partners” about the designation for Western Lake Erie, which has inevitably turned green again thanks to rampant algae growth.

Environmental groups are pushing for the “impaired” designation, which would trigger more stringent pollution controls under the federal Clean Water Act.

The biennial report was due April 1.

“The Clean Water Act provides powerful tools to protect our drinking water, public health and economy,” said Joel Brammeier, CEO of the Chicago-based nonprofit Alliance for the Great Lakes.” It’s time to use them.

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Farmers encouraged to adopt different strategies for managing nutrient runoff

By Louis Pin, Postmedia Network

Friday, August 19, 2016 11:26:44 EDT AM

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority is monitoring the Thames River, with heavy rainfall expected this week. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement predicting between 25 and 50 mm of rain overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. (Trevor Terfloth, The Daily News)

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority is monitoring the Thames River, with heavy rainfall expected this week. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement predicting between 25 and 50 mm of rain overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. (Trevor Terfloth, The Daily News)

 

Algae blooms are nothing new in southern Ontario.

Last summer a number of harmful blooms resulted in beach closures and brought to the forefront an alarming trend, as phosphorous runoff turned portions of Lakes St. Clair and Erie into a toxic blue and green mess.

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority, along with a number of organizations under the Thames River Clear Water Revival umbrella group, are trying to reduce blooms by 40 per cent.

According to Colin Little, Agricultural Program Coordinator with the LTVCA, the blooms are dangerous at their current level but beneficial in moderation.

“Forty per cent is where they figure they can reduce blooms so it’s not a risk to our water source,” Little said. “Essentially they’re part of the natural process, algae growth … but at the level they’re releasing right now, there’s an element they’re releasing [that is] toxic – not good for us.”

There are a number of causes for algae blooms, including nutrient runoff from farmland. Phosphorous is an ingredient in fertilizer which can drain into major waterways like the Thames River. It’s a problem the Clear Water Revival group wants to address without disrupting farming operations.

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Creeping into lakes

Blue-green algae can release toxins dangerous to people, pets

By Christopher Stephens and Scott L. Miley CNHI News Service
Aug 16, 2016

BROOKVILLE — Matt Kiefer was wary about taking his family to swim at the scenic Brookville Lake beach at Mounds State Recreation Area where state officials have detected high levels of blue-green algae.

So before he drove his wife, Kiri, along with son Lucas, 4, and daughter Violet, 14 months, for a Sunday morning dip, he looked online for information.

“I read up on it and how a lot of lakes are affected by the algae through over-fertilization and runoff, but I haven’t seen any effects of it,” he said.

On that sunny day at Brookville Lake, a yellow sign advised swimmers to avoid drinking the lake water and to shower after swimming.

Brookville is just one of several Hoosier lakes where blue-green algae blooms have caused concern for naturalists and nature lovers.

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Can Ontario farmers find a way to tame Lake Erie’s algae bloom?

Published on Jul 19, 2016

Southwestern Ontario farmers are taking the first steps to discover how phosphorus that fuel Lake Erie’s annual algae bloom could be reduced to levels that don’t cover the lake in slime. It’s a small step, but one that could pave the way for larger reductions in Canada—and possibly show how to shrink the much larger volume of phosphorus runoff from farms on the American side of the border, particularly around the Maumee River in Michigan.

In a report released this month, U.S. government officials and state academics estimate the harmful algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie will be smaller in 2016 than in previous years. That’s welcome news after the summer of 2014 saw a bloom large enough that it threatened the water supply for Toledo, Ohio.

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East Toledo braces for water work

$24.7M sewage-overflow project at International Park to last 2 years

East Toledoans are being prepped by the Hicks-Hudson administration for a $24.7 million project that will begin next month and disrupt life at International Park for the next two years.

The project is part of the Toledo Waterways Initiative, a $521 million package of projects to substantially reduce the city’s use of treatment-plant bypasses to handle sewage overflows during heavy rain. The city agreed to build the projects to settle a federal environmental lawsuit.

0718InternationalParkStorageBasin

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Reducing harmful algal blooms, red tides, and dead zones throughout Louisiana, America, and the World

In 2016, Charles Marsala, Louisiana Senate candidate, hosted Earth Fest in Jefferson Parish, La. After learning about the 6,000-square-mile “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico along Louisiana’s coast, he felt it was time for action. The State has been studying the Gulf Dead Zone since 1983 with a great staff of scientists, but little legislation or political activity has transpired to reduce the size of the Dead Zone.

Two years ago, Marsala, former Mayor of Atherton, Calif., designed a wildlife television show based on the 1970s classic Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. He added discussion of endangered species and waterway issues. The show, Awesome Wildlife Effort, airs on public broadcasting, and individual segments are listed on his YouTube channel, AWE News. An episode focused on harmful algal blooms, or HABs, was nominated for a regional Emmy award.

Growing up near Like Pontchartrain, Marsala remembers warnings at the lake, prohibiting swimming in the 1970s. Since then, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has restored the lake, but little has been done to reduce the Dead Zone or the HAB in the Gulf. Both phenomenons occur not only along the Gulf Coast but in more than 500 areas worldwide.

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