US Agency Predicts Toxic Algal Bloom In Lake Erie

Lester Mason
July 16, 2018

Ohio's governor is calling for regulations on thousands of farms as part of a new strategy to combat the fertilizer and manure that flows into streams and feeds persistent toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. Last year's bloom had a severity of 8.

The forecast relies on satellite imaging and computer models to predict the toxic blooms every summer.

This spring was particularly dry, he says, which helped contain some of the chemicals that typically cause Erie's blooms - which is good news for the people around that lake, but what about other lakes in the region, particularly inland lakes in NY with their own algae problems?

"We are expecting there will be a significant bloom", NOAA oceanographer Rick Stumpf said in the presentation.

"The lake did get warmer earlier this year, though, and it all is constantly evolving", he said. Researchers hope to someday be able to predict toxicity in advance, as well, but the science for that has not yet been developed.

Vermilion Mayor Jim Forthofer said the city generally has concerns about algal blooms but typically those in the western basin of the lake don't travel far enough east to affect Vermilion, which is Lorain County's westernmost lakefront town. The algae in 2012 and 2016 was relatively mild, he said.

In order to decrease the impact of harmful algal blooms, scientist say we must see a drop in phosphorus entering Lake Erie's watershed. An outbreak in 2014 contaminated the tap water for two days for more than 400,000 people around Toledo.

The presentation took place at Ohio State's Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island in Lake Erie.

Farmers in the St. Marys, Auglaize, Little Auglaize and Ottawa river watersheds may soon be required to meet stricter fertilizer regulations after Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order. Farmers have steadfastly resisted regulations saying the voluntary actions they employ are making progress in reducing runoff.

But Ms. Johnson said that while she hasn't had time to study Mr. Kasich's executive order in depth yet, she believes the general concept of having farmers in distressed sub-watersheds do more to control manure releases makes sense.

New this year was an address by W. Russell Callender, assistant administrator of NOAA's National Ocean Service, who said toxin-producing harmful algal blooms have grown in importance to Congress.

Upon consent by the commission, the directors of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency are ordered to recommend a rules package that establishes nutrient management requirements for phosphorus and all other nutrient sources.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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