In a forecast presented today at Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory at Put-in-Bay, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its partners are predicting a “significant” harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie this summer. Read Ohio Sea Grant’s press release about the forecast.
A reminder that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual harmful algal bloom forecast for western Lake Erie, including reports on Maumee River nutrient loading and on recent research aimed at solving the problem, is set for July 11 at Stone Lab at Put-in-Bay. There’s a webinar option if you can’t attend in person. (Photo: Lake Erie on June 26, NOAA CoastWatch.)
By Alayna DeMartini, CFAES Marketing and Communications
A new report details laws across the United States intended to decrease the amount of key nutrients in fertilizer from entering rivers, lakes, and streams. The report was written by Peggy Hall, agricultural and resource law field specialist with CFAES, and Ellen Essman, a CFAES research associate.
In addition to examining laws, the report also describes measures that various states have taken to encourage farmers to voluntarily participate in practices that reduce the amount of nitrogen or phosphorus, both critical ingredients in fertilizer, from leaving the farm fields on which they were applied.
Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in water can encourage the growth of harmful algal blooms that can contaminate surface and drinking water supplies.
“The main takeaway,” study leader Justin Chaffin is quoted as saying in the story, “is that cyanobacteria blooms are not just a western-basin issue.”
Chaffin is research coordinator at CFAES’ Stone Laboratory.
Not only do blooms routinely occur in the lake’s central basin, the story says, they can also produce types of cyanobacterial toxins—toxins produced by cyanobacteria, the organisms responsible for harmful algal blooms—that typically aren’t detected through routine water-safety monitoring.
CFAES’ Stone Laboratory, already the home of extensive long-term Lake Erie water quality efforts, is adding a new research building at Put-in-Bay and new monitoring equipment on the Maumee River, Lake Erie’s largest tributary, thanks to funding provided by Senate Bill 299, the bipartisan Clean Lake 2020 Plan.
Harmful algal blooms aren’t just a thing in western Lake Erie. They happen in the lake’s central basin too, and when they do, they sometimes produce toxins.
So says a new study led by Justin Chaffin of CFAES’ Stone Laboratory, which set out to learn more about the central basin’s less-studied blooms, including what drives them and whether they produce toxins called cyanobacterial toxins. The toxins, which can threaten human health, must be removed by facilities that treat drinking water.
CFAES scientists are testing a filter that could take out up to 75 percent of the phosphorus in farm field runoff.
Why it’s important: Phosphorus in farm field runoff is a driver of harmful algal blooms, such as those plaguing western Lake Erie. Reducing that phosphorus could limit the blooms and by doing so help improve water quality.
From a press release today by Ohio State science writer Misti Crane: “Predicting and pinpointing which farming practices are most likely to protect against environmental harm is a complex proposition, and researchers at The Ohio State University are working to fine-tune the tools that could help farmers and others prevent harmful algal blooms.” The researchers are with CFAES, and you can read the full story here.