Smaller Lake Erie Algae Bloom, But Danger Still Looms

July 9, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Experts predict that the Lake Erie algae bloom will be smaller this year, but they also warn that the danger is not over.

Lake Erie algae bloom

A new report released by experts revealed that the Lake Erie algae bloom in the summer of 2016 will be less damaging than expected.

Scientists say that the fourth largest lake in North America will have a bloom of about 5.5 on an index of zero-10 that ranks size and severity, with ten being the most severe.

The report was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other researchers on July 7 during a webinar (web-based seminar) from Ohio State University’s Stone Lab situated on Lake Erie.

The reasons for the decline in the algae bloom include a drier spring this year, conditions, and countless conservation efforts that farmers and people living surrounding the lake have put into place.

Lake Erie’s northern shore is bounded by the Canadian province of Ontario, with the US states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York on its southern and easternmost shores and Michigan on the west.

Rick Stumpf
, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explained:

“We do expect there to be a bloom, but substantially smaller than last year’s.”

Stumpf added:

“That (5.5) does mean there will be a significant bloom. This is, however, a much smaller bloom than last year, also smaller than 2014, 2013 and 2011.”

The bloom is expected to show up later this month and will be fully present in the lake from August until October. The disgusting looking green mats are supposed to cover at least one-fourth to one-third of the 241-mile lake. Stumpf went on to say that the algae bloom should not disturb normal activities in the lake.

“There’s plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the lake, most of the lake will be fine, most of the time.”

However, not everyone is ready to jump in the water. Jennifer Caddick, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said this year’s forecast is “not a cause for celebration.” She went on to add:

“I am calling on the federal governments of the U.S. and Canada as well as the governments of Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to roll out comprehensive plans to address agricultural pollution.”

In September, a large group of researchers will deploy the Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) in Lake Erie, which will:

“…autonomously collect water samples and analyze them for algal toxins to provide drinking water managers with data on harmful-algal toxicity in near real-time before the water reaches municipal water intakes.”

Tim Davis, a GLERL research ecologist, added:

“The Environmental Sample Processor will enable us to more closely track changes in the toxicity of the blooms with one or two analyzed water tests each day to augment the current system of someone sampling twice a week from a boat and then taking those samples to be analyzed in a lab. Our goal is to get more rapid detection of sudden changes in toxicity to improve the timeliness of NOAA’s harmful algal bloom forecasts and better protect communities.”

What are your thoughts on the smaller Lake Erie algae bloom?

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