Algae bus tour highlights problems, solutions for Lake Erie

OAK HARBOR, Oh (WTVG) - Gerald Whipple has spent his whole life on the farm.

"I love it. I love to see things grown," he said.

He takes great pride in his work and says he makes it a priority to take care of the resources that make it all possible.

"Farmers care about the water; they care about the land," Whipple tells 13abc.

Over the last couple of years, there's been a more urgent call for people in the agriculture community to make changes, limiting the amount of runoff heading into Lake Erie.

Whipple is all for it. In fact, he says he already uses filter strips, cover crops and only applies the fertilizer that he needs.

"We want to show them what farmers are doing, what has been done, what's coming along and what farmers can do if they're not doing these practices," Michael Libben, program administrator of the Ottawa County Soil and Conservation District, said.

Friday, a bus load of researchers saw some of those best practices first hand and also got a close-up look of the bloom in the lake.

"If there is no wind with this [forecast] and it's very calm, it will exacerbate it and it will grow right in place," Captain Paul Pacholski, president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, said. "It can double within a week."

He adds that it's hard to see the lake in this condition. As Toledo water customers know, it can be troublesome at the tap, but it also keep people away from places that should be summer destination spots.

"You have people who want to go swimming," Pacholski said. "The beaches [at Maumee Bay] are posted up and down, do not swim, do not wade, do not touch the water."

The good news, he says, is that a solution is possible. But it will take time and a lot of hard work.

"I look forward to the time when we come out together and talk about the success of cleaning up Lake Erie," he added.