algal bloom | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

algal bloom

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

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.

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has rolled out a comprehensive water quality plan for his state. The plan has been named H2Ohio.

You’ve probably heard about harmful blue-green algae on Lake Erie (it's actually not algae at all - it's cyanobacteria). A large bloom of it famously shut down the City of Toledo’s water supply in 2014. But, did you know that cyanobacteria also blooms on Michigan’s inland lakes every year?


Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom rapidly expanding

Aug 14, 2019
An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

The cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie has grown 20 miles in the past week. It now covers 620 square miles of Lake Erie, taking up about 6 percent of the entire lake and covering more area than Detroit and its suburbs. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists are calling on presidential candidates to commit to doing more to protect the Great Lakes. 

The "Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition" has a 5-point action plan they’d like to see candidates adopt. 

a gargoyle on the corner of a Detroit building
Jeff Morrison

Today on Stateside, the interim president of Michigan State University has publically apologized to survivors of sexual abuse by former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar. At a Friday meeting, those survivors told the Board of Trustees that apologies aren’t enough. Plus, documenting the architectural creatures that watch over Detroit.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Nassar survivors tell MSU trustees that apologies are not enough  

Credit: NOAA derived image from EUMETSAT Copernicus Sentinel-3a satellite dat / NOAA

Researchers with Ohio Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie will likely be smaller than last year.

The forecast relies on satellite imaging and computer models to predict the toxic blooms every summer. 

Christopher Winslow, Director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, says this summer's prediction is about 6 on a scale of 10. 

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Late summer is when we wind up seeing those unwelcome blooms of cyanobacteria and algae in western Lake Erie.

But right now, spring, is when the blooms are set up by a sort of equation: fertilizer plus spring rain equals phosphorus loading, which leads to those late-summer algal blooms.

Courtesy of the Isley farm

Blooms of algae in Lake Erie have given rise to a toxin that got so bad three years ago, Toledo had to shut down its water system.

Fertilizer that runs off from farms, into rivers, and then into Lake Erie is a big reason those algal blooms exist.

But some farmers, like Laurie Isley and Jim Isley, are working to reduce that fertilizer contamination.

a picture of the lab in a can
NOAA GLERL

There are concerns that Lake Erie will experience the same kind of toxic cyanobacteria blooms this summer that caused Toledo’s water supply to be shut off three years ago.

Reseachers monitor Lake Erie to detect cyanobacteria blooms as early as possible, but it takes time to go out, gather samples, and then bring them back to the lab for analysis.

This year, however, a “lab in a can” is giving researchers a hand. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Western Lake Erie may see the third largest cyanobacterial bloom in the past 15 years this summer.

The Lake Erie forecast was released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which funds the research.

Cyanobacteria is fed by runoff from farmers’ fields and urban sources.