Significant Algae Bloom Predicted In Lake Erie

Significant Algae Bloom Predicted In Lake Erie

Heavier than normal spring rains are spelling trouble for Lake Erie, where algae blooms are expected to be worse than past year.

The algae blooms usually begin in late July and can continue into October.

But he added that despite its anticipated size, "much of the lake will be algae-free throughout the bloom season and the lake remains a key asset".

He declined to predict the potential danger of the bloom.

"This year's bloom is likely to be significantly larger than the average, approaching some of the largest blooms on record, including the one that caused the city of Toledo to issue a "do not drink or boil" advisory in 2014", said University of MI aquatic ecologist Don Scavia, a member of the forecast team, in a statement. A 2011 bloom reached that mark and a 2015 bloom exceeded it, registering a 10.5 as the biggest on record. Size doesn't necessarily indicate degree of toxicity. The toxins in a large bloom may not be as concentrated, they said. "If you have a northeast wind, OH has a problem", one scientist said.

Harmful algae blooms are triggered when a lot of phosphorus is carried along streams and rivers to Lake Erie.

"Generally, if you see a bloom well, it's a boater's problem; if you don't see it well, it's a water treatment plant's problem", Stumpf said. "A second Sentinel-3 will be launched later this year; the pair will assure that we can consistently see features that are one tenth the size of blooms we can see now".

Environmental groups quickly weighed-in on the forecast Thursday, issuing their own predictions of gloom for the summer.

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Recently, blooms have appeared in late July in the far western basin of Lake Erie, and increased in early August, although heavy rain in mid-July may push the late July bloom further into the basin.

The rainy weather in May is a factor in the relatively high spring phosphorus load into the lake, researchers said.

The announcement came during a press conference at the Ohio State Stone Laboratory, located on Gibralter Island on Lake Erie.

"The governments of Canada and the United States, along with Michigan, Ohio and Ontario need to do much more to solve the problem", Nancy Goucher, Manager of Partnerships with Freshwater Future, said.

Faced with another troubling summer on the lake, an official with the Alliance for the Great Lakes recently said both provincial and state governments responsible for Lake Erie need to take more action.

Blooms of such size can become harmful to aquatic life and even humans, the NOAA said. An estimated 85% of the phosphorus entering Lake Erie from the Maumee comes from agricultural sources.

While NOAA does not forecast for toxicity, the HAB could still pose a threat to swimmers and pets, Rick Stumpf, NOAA's lead oceanographer for the Lake Erie bloom forecast, told the Port Clinton News-Herald.

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