Massive algal bloom detected by Lake Erie islands

[USA] A massive algal bloom has been detected by the Lake Erie islands and nearby mainland areas, but officials said there’s no threat yet to the area’s drinking water.

And while the algae is now far from the Toledo and Oregon public-water intakes, that could change soon, a scientist leading Lake Erie algae monitoring and research said today.

Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island, said the growing algal bloom now envelops the waters around the Lake Erie Islands and south toward Port Clinton and Catawba Island, but from there spreads east, not west toward Maumee Bay.

Algae along the Lake Erie shoreline. THE BLADE/VANESSA McCRAY
Algae along the Lake Erie shoreline. THE BLADE/VANESSA McCRAY

“The flow from the Maumee River is so high, and we’ve had southwest winds, so the bloom has moved out into the open waters of the central basin,” Mr. Reutter said this afternoon.

But with bright, sunny weather this week and sediment flowing into Maumee Bay and the western basin likely to settle, “I would expect a bloom to pop in that area in the next week or so — the next few days, really,” Mr. Reutter said.

The green sheen already sprawling farther east is very consistent with forecasts issued in recent weeks for a bumper algae crop supported by nutrients flowing into Lake Erie from the Maumee, he said.

City and county officials have pledged vigilance concerning potential algae-related problems with the region’s water supplies.

Starting last Aug. 2, Toledo’s public water was declared unfit to drink or use for cooking or bathing for more than 48 hours after a test revealed high levels of microcystin, a toxin from the algae-like plant microcystis, in the processed water.

“No such issues now. Was just with utilities — so far so good,” Dr. David Grossman, the Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner, said after an inquiry about the bloom’s impact on local water quality.

“Our water is safe to drink. We have not detected microcystin in the intake crib in Lake Erie or the tap water,” city officials posted today in the Toledo Water Quality Dashboard on the city website. “While harmful algal blooms may be found elsewhere in Lake Erie, there are none present in our intake crib where raw water enters the treatment process.”

Mr. Reutter said officials in Port Clinton and Sandusky, whose water intakes are closer to the current algae bloom, are also keeping watch on their water quality.


Photo: Algae on the Lake Erie shoreline along Perry Street in Port Clinton, OH, on Thursday, July 23, 2015. THE BLADE/VANESSA McCRAY

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