Lake Erie algae bloom forecast to be among worst on record
Monday, July 13, 2015, 2:24 PM - Algae bloom may sound like a fancy ocean flower, but the muggy, green, toxic slime is far from it, and this summer is forecast to be among the most severe algal bloom seasons on record.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its research partners predict that this year could become the second-most severe algae bloom season western Lake Erie's since the record-setting 2011 bloom.
The bloom is expected to measure 8.7 on the severity index of up to 10, with a range from 8.1 to possibly as high as 9.5, largely surpassing last year's rating of 6.5.
Toxic algae contains microcystis, a cyanobacterial toxic to humans and wildlife that's been plaguing many for years.
In August 2014 an algae bloom in Lake Erie near Pelee Island led to beach closings and warnings about using lake water for leisure activities. Those spending time lakeside in southern Ontario were advised to use alternate sources for drinking water, like bottled water.
The NOAA lists a few major threats expected this year from these cyanobacterial blooms -- particularly, the high cost for cities and local governments to treat drinking water, as well as a risk to swimmers in high concentration areas and a nuisance to boaters when blooms form. These effects are forecast to peak in September.
Richard Stumpf, the NOAA's ecological forecasting applied research lead at NCCOS says the bloom will develop from west to east in the Lake Erie Western Basin, beginning this month.
Ontario and the states of Ohio and Michigan signed an agreement to improve the quality of Lake Erie's water by reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the Western Basin of Lake Erie by 40 per cent.
Phosphorus, found in fertilizers, is one among the leading factors influencing growing algae blooms. It makes its way to the lake from fertilized farmlands, gardens, storm water runoff, and pet waste, among other means.
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