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NOAA forecast: smallest cyanobacteria blooms since 2010

Cyanobacteria bloom in Lake Erie

Scientists predict this year's cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie will be smaller than any year since 2010.

Cyanobacteria produces a dangerous toxin. In 2014 a large mass surrounded Toledo's water intake and shut it down for two days.

Last year, record blooms covered a huge area of Lake Erie with green slime.

Rick Stump is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says this year, a relatively dry June will prevent what happened in 2015.

"It rained and rained a lot in June in 2015," says Stump. "It was one of wettest months ever, and led to floods, and high discharges into the lake."

Those discharges carried loads of phosphorus into the lake. Phosphorus encourages the growth of the blooms.

Stump says boaters this year should be able to find areas of the lake with little to no cyanobacteria growth.

"The blooms don't stay in the same place," notes Stump, "and so, I cannot emphasize enough, there's plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the lake."

States around Lake Erie are trying to cut down on phosphorus runoff.

Stump says people should not permit their dogs to wade and swim in Lake Erie if there is any visible green slime, indicating the presence of cyanobacteria. The toxin produced by the bacteria kills several dogs every year.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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