Lake Erie algae forecast is grim

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By Karen Schaefer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an especially  bad year for Lake Erie algae. But as independent producer Karen Schaefer reports, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more water shutdowns like the one in Toledo last year.

Karen Schaefer is an Ohio freelance journalist and independent radio producer.

Karen Schaefer is an Ohio freelance journalist and independent radio producer.

SCHAEFER:  The updated forecast for this year’s algae bloom in western Lake Erie is grim. NOAA scientist Rick Stumpf says the bloom will undoubtedly be worse than last year.

STUMPF:  We are looking at more severe than 2014, not as bad as 2011. But potentially this could be the second worst bloom that we have seen on Lake Erie.

SCHAEFER:  In 2011, Lake Erie’s worst-ever toxic bloom drifted far east of Cleveland. Last year, the city of Toledo had to shut down its water supply for nearly three days. Stumpf says it was this year’s record June rainfall that tipped the scales, washing phosphorus that feeds the algae from farmland into the lake. But Stumpf believes most water treatment plants should be able to overcome the blooms.

STUMPF:  They’re ready, like Toledo is well-stocked with all the chemicals that are required. The practical problem will be the cost.

SCHAEFER:  Water plant managers say new, two-stage limits on algae toxins from the US EPA will help them make sure that Lake Erie drinking water is safe. And bi-weekly NOAA bulletins on algae blooms will help boaters, fishermen, and vacationers know which areas to avoid.  For Great Lakes Echo, I’m Karen Schaefer.

Heavy rains flood Lake Erie

Heaving lake waters wash over docks at Ohio State University’s Stone Lab at Put-in-Bay. Forecasters says this June’s record-breaking rainfall, which has led to higher water levels in Lake Erie, will likely mean a major algae bloom in the western basin. Image: Karen Schaefer

Support for Karen Schaefer’s public radio series is provided by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program at Ohio State University.

One thought on “Lake Erie algae forecast is grim

  1. Seriously? How is it that no one in the know, any of the experts or any curious bystanders have not asked me for a detailed explanation? I’ll tell you why, They want to hold onto their Paradigm. Well there is a shift out there and it’s called “Ice Boom Theory” which explains how the N.Y.P.A. ice boom has stalled the natural ice assisted conveyor on the Lower Great lakes. This is causing a build up of nutrients in Lake Erie. It also stops the expulsion of nutrients and sediment back up onto the beaches. Allowing or more like forcing the ice to melt in place rather than force and grind its’ way out of the lake has set in motion a cascading degradation of the ecosystem. Google “Joe Barrett ice boom” for a recent interview on Buffalo Rising. See if there is anything you disagree with. THX, JBB

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