Why is Maumee River 'No Contact Advisory' still in place?

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - The message remains clear, even while the water is cloudy: don't contact the lower Maumee River.

Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski says that no contact advisory will only be lifted when the microcystin level goes to zero. One of the two testing spots on the river is at the MLK Bridge.

“That 11.82 has dropped down to 0.76, so we definitely see a drop,” Zgodzinski said.

It’s not as neon on a gloomy day, but microcystis (that’s the blue-green algae itself, not the toxin) is still floating in the river. And while tests here and at Cullen Park are improving, you still don't want to touch.

“Skin contact, you might get a rash or something along those lines,” Zgodzinski said.

In the video, you’ll see the chopper view from last Friday, and from today. This gull still has scum to swim a week later.

“On the shore is slightly green, but they don't see much out in the river,” Zgodzinski said.

“And it developed its own bloom. There’s always blue green algae in the Maumee River, all summer long,” the University of Toledo’s Dr. Tom Bridgeman said.

This green on the Maumee River hasn't moved much over the past two weeks. And Dr. Bridgeman says there are probably two different blooms: one on the river, and one on the lake.

“Well they're different blooms,” Dr. Bridgeman said. “The river communities of algae tend to be different than the lake algae. So it's not the same bloom.”

It’s nearly the same distance from his office at the University of Toledo to the river, as the lake is from downtown. Bridgeman said that's too far for winds to carry algae. But down on the docks, Carl Nelson from the Imagination Station gets a firsthand look.

“From a science perspective, it's actually been pretty cool,” Nelson said. “When we saw the bloom out on the docks, we actually went out and grabbed a sample.”

Nelson sent the green goop to an EPA lab that partners with citizen scientists. First came the microscope slide. All three experts say there's good news coming downriver.

“The bloom in Lake Erie and hopefully on the Maumee River is on its way out, for this year,” Dr. Bridgeman said.