[17th May, 2014] The forecast for Lake Erie this summer looks like it will be calling for another outbreak of algae on the water. The director of the Ohio Sea Grant CollegeProgram said conditions in the lake are looking like they did in 2011 when a massive algae bloom spread from Toledo to Cleveland…
Algae blooms during recent summers have become a threat to the lake’s tourism and fishing industries and toxins produced by the algae have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can’t survive.
“It’s too soon to give an overall prediction, but from where we are right now, even if we didn’t get any more rainfall we would already be getting what would be an average-sized bloom,” said Jeff Reutter, head of Ohio Sea Grant, said at a climate-change conference in Columbus this past week.
Phosphorus from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants feed the algae that leave behind toxins that can kill animals and foul drinking water.
The official forecast for the algae blooms won’t be out until July, but researchers already are bracing for trouble.
“Based on spring rains, we’re on track to match some of our highest bloom years,” said Chris Winslow, assistant director of Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, which is located on the lake. “It could be bad.”
Measurements of phosphorus runoff along the Maumee River near Toledo has been well above average through the first four months of the year and is similar to that of 2011, Reutter said.
“If it’s warm and you give them a lot of phosphorous, you’re going to get an algae bloom,” he said.
A U.S.-Canadian agency said in a report earlier this year that sharp cuts in phosphorus runoff into the lake are needed to counter the worsening problem of algae blooms.
The algae are poisonous enough to kill animals, make people sick and impact drinking water.
A township east of Toledo ordered residents last year not to drink tap water for two days because of algae pollution.
Some cities that draw their drinking water from the lake have been forced to spend more money lately to test and treat the water. The city of Toledo estimated it spent an extra $1 million last year to combat the toxins.
View original article at: More algae likely for Lake Erie this summer