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Environment & Climate Change

Ohio outspending Michigan by hundreds of millions to fight algae harboring toxic bacteria

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Jeff Reutter
/
Ohio State University

More than one billion dollars has been spent in the U.S. since 2010 dealing with algae blooms that potentially harbor toxic cyanobacteria. A report by the Environmental Working Group’s analysis found the majority of that money was spent in Ohio. That state has spent more than $815 million as it struggles to control algae blooms in Lake Erie and some other inland lakes. Lake Erie is a hot spot for cyanobacteria.

The group’s analysis found Michigan only spent thousands of dollars around Lake St. Clair and that came from communities and homeowners.

Anne Schechinger was the senior analyst for the report.

“We know that the cyanobacteria are happening more often in Michigan and in more water bodies.”

Algae blooms outbreaks are increasing in some of Michigan’s inland lakes where people get drinking water and use for recreation.

She says much of the cause of the outbreaks of algae are because of farm fertilizers and runoff. So far, Michigan is relying on farmers to voluntarily reduce runoff.

“We know that voluntary conservation is definitely not enough to fix the algae problem in Lake Erie or anywhere else in the U.S.,” Schechinger said.

Schechinger says outbreaks of algae outbreaks are becoming more common because of climate change. Hot days in summer encourage the growth.

She says states that rely only on voluntary efforts to reduce the farm runoff that contributes to the problem are endangering the “bodies of water they depend on for household use, recreation, and tourism.”

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