Rain to flush algae, but old problems remain

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - Lake Erie’s algae bloom is shrinking, but is a long way from gone. Same thing on the Maumee River: you'll find green patches on both.

Rain over the past few days may not be pretty, and the rain will pick up some leftover phosphorous and pull it into Lake Erie. But that rain will also flush the system, and we'll soon see an end to 2017's algae season.

“The bloom in Lake Erie and hopefully on the Maumee River is on its way out, for this year,” Dr. Tom Bridgeman said. He’s a professor at the University of Toledo and one of the region’s premiere algae experts.

“We are going to see things being pushed out,” Dr. Daryl Dwyer said. “And so, yes, this is going to help.” Dwyer is a professor of ecology at the University of Toledo.

You might not know Daryl Dwyer’s name. But you may have seen the wetlands the professor brought back to life ... like at Maumee Bay State Park. That fresh green space will mean less green on Lake Erie.

"It's kind of like different from the older approach, which is always going to the farm fields, always going to the farmers and saying you need buffer strips," Dr. Dwyer said.

He’s working with both farmers, and cities like Defiance, which can have upstream blooms.

“There's always blue green algae in the Maumee River, all summer long,” Dr. Bridgeman said.

Farmers, scientists, and boaters all wants less phosphorous. There’s one number you'll keep hearing: 40% reduction.

“If you're looking at attaining it, I think it's absolutely doable,” Dr. Dwyer said.

Dwyer says his farmer friends use the 'four Rs' to get us there.

“The right time, the right place, the right fertilizer, and the right amount,” Dr. Dwyer said.

And it all comes back to green: this time, cash.

It is working beautifully. Because the farmers are saving money,” Dr. Dwyer said.

While there have been many improvements by local farmers, an ODNR investigation just concluded for a fish kill that knocked out 66,000 local fish. David Youngpeter, Mike Bockey, and Dan Wagner all face serious restitution fees.