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Smaller algal bloom in Lake Erie this year

The goal is to reduce the phosphorus intake by 40 percent
Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 5:31 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Experts predicted Lake Erie’s algal bloom would be small this year and they were correct. It is considerably smaller than the bloom of 2019 which was one of the worst on record.

So why was this year’s bloom smaller? The region received less rain in the months of March, April, May, and June. Less water means less runoff from the land near the Lake and the bodies of water that feed into the Lake, namely the Maumee River.

Justin Chaffin, an Ohio State University Lake Erie Senior Researcher said, “We would like to get to the point where when we do get storms we don’t have the phosphorus loading. That’s the goal, reduce the loading even when we have storms.”

The western part of Lake Erie is the shallowest and therefore the warmest. The Maumee River is the biggest tributary to the Lake and it carries a lot of agricultural nutrients. When we get a lot of rain, hot temperatures and phosphorus and nitrogen runoff we get large blooms. The worst in recent memory came in 2011, 2014, and 2019.

“It’s been awful. There’s been times when where we’re standing would look like a bright green carpet and you could smell the water and you wouldn’t want to go anywhere near it compared to today which is really pretty beautiful.,” University of Toledo Lake Erie Center Director Tom Bridgeman explained.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2-Ohio initiative has invested in creating clean and safe water.

“It’s a good start, trying to help farmers to keep nutrients on the land and improve best management practices. It may be buffer strips along the stream, putting fertilizer below the ground where it stays, putting on cover crops in the winter time. It varies. That’s what the effort is, figure out the best practice and put them in place,” Bridgeman said.

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