City watches for dangerous Lake Erie algae blooms

SEP 8, 2017

Originally published on September 7, 2017 5:14 pm 

For a city on Lake Erie, it’s the season for monitoring toxic algae blooms — and drinking water.


Harmful algal blooms continue to plague Lake Erie, threaten drinking water, fish, pets

The algae-clogged waters of Lake Erie's western basin at Maumee Bay State Park east of Toledo produced the growth of cyanobacteria and a toxin called microcystin that can be dangerous for people, birds, fish and pets.
The algae-clogged waters of Lake Erie’s western basin at Maumee Bay State Park east of Toledo produced the growth of cyanobacteria and a toxin called microcystin that can be dangerous for people, birds, fish and pets.(The New York Times file photo)

An algal bloom contaminated with toxic bacteria shocked Toledo in August 2014, poisoning the city’s Lake Erie drinking water and forcing the city of 400,000 people to drink bottled water for three days.

Three years later, scientists are taking action to stay a step ahead of the harmful blooms, monitoring the algae and bacteria from outer space, from land, and in the water, with a new arsenal of high-tech tools and research projects.

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What does disturbing new Lake Erie report mean for you? 01:0701:07

Andrew Horansky, WKYC 7:08 PM. EDT June 21, 2017

(Photo: WKYC)

The EPA has released a scathing new report that finds Lake Erie is in “poor shape” when it comes to the other Great Lakes.

The report, released Wednesday, blames pollution, poor habitats, and algal blooms.

So what does that mean for people living in Northeast Ohio?

Channel 3 News inquired about the safety of drinking water, beaches and fish consumption.

According to the EPA, drinking water quality remains “good” and “unchanging” so long as it continues to be treated.

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Ohio concentrates effort to reduce Lake Erie algae

Toledo, Ohio — Ohio’s environmental regulators who have pledged to drastically cut what’s feeding the harmful algae in Lake Erie will consolidate oversight of the work to make sure money is being well spent and research isn’t overlapping.

The proposal brought by Gov. John Kasich’s administration and approved by the legislature last week will put the Ohio Lake Erie Commission in charge of seeing that the state reaches its goal of a 40 percent reduction of phosphorus going into western Lake Erie within the next 10 years.

Both Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario have pledged to make the same reduction, which researchers say will go a long way to improving water quality.

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As Lake Erie algae season looms, Michigan punts on new farm rules


LANSING, MI — On the cusp of what’s expected to be another sizable summer algae bloom in Lake Erie, the state of Michigan has released a plan for improving the lake that critics say doesn’t do enough to reduce nutrient-laden runoff from farms.

The state calls the 23-page Domestic Action Plan for Lake Erie released June 13 a roadmap to help Michigan meet its joint pledge with Ohio and Canada to reduce phosphorus entering the lake by 40 percent over the next eight years.

Phosphorus runoff from farms, sewage plants and other sources of nutrient pollution is fueling disgusting and dangerous algae growth in the lake’s western end each summer. A toxin inside the blue-green algae can cause rashes, nausea, headaches and organ damage.

Michigan is one of several states in the lake’s watershed issuing action plans the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expects to roll into a broader strategy to curb the harmful algal blooms, which turn the water green, slimy and toxic.

The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the U.S. and Canada requires national plans be completed by February 2018. Ohio, which has the most land in the western basin watershed and the most coastline impacted by the annual blooms, is expecting to release its plan in October.

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Research On Lake Erie Algae Blooms Imperiled

Trump Budget Blueprint Calls For Eliminating Sea Grant Funding
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 1:55pm
By Elizabeth Miller

OSU researchers use the walleye in this freezer to test for microcystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae.  Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

A lot of attention has focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which doles out $300 million a year for various projects. But his “skinny budget” has other cuts — including the National Sea Grant program — that would also affect the region.

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Lake Erie algae issues may strike Cleveland

By Tom Henry | BLADE STAFF WRITER Published on May 19, 2017

DETROIT — Climate change, invasive species, and the impact of industrial chemicals are topics at the largest annual gathering of Great Lakes scientists.

The 2014 Toledo water crisis and western Lake Erie’s chronic algae problem continue to garner a lot of attention.

Toledo-Water-Problems-2This satellite image shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011, which according to NOAA was the worst in decades. While much of the focus when it comes to algae is on the lake’s western basin near Toledo, a researcher says blooms may impact the rest of the lake more often going forward.

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