Large algal bloom expected this summer on Lake Erie

TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Researchers like Thomas Bridgeman at the University of Toledo are monitoring Lake Erie all the time. Usually around this time of year, they're keeping a close eye on the developing algal bloom.

"So far it's a pretty typical year," he said.

Right now, there is little, visual evidence of anything. But Bridgeman says, "we expect that it will be increasing all through the end of June and into July. We'll probably have a pretty big bloom this year in August."

A big bloom, however, doesn't automatically mean an issue with the drinking water. In fact, there are a number of tools in place to make sure that doesn't happen.

"They have early warning devices now," Captain Paul Pacholski, a charter boat captain said. "Right around the intake they have monitor buoys and throughout the lake."

Pacholski is an other set of eyes on the waters of Lake Erie. He takes samples on a weekly basis and reports back to the Ohio EPA.

"Because of the range of boats that we have, we can take a sampling of water that basically tells you what that full 40 miles of western basin is," he said.

Pacholski says phosphorus levels are high, similar to those in 2014. But there is no way to know for sure, what that will mean for the future of the bloom this year.

"Right now, I'm kind of optimistic," Pacholski added.

All of this is a trend that experts worry is becoming the norm.

"The problems in Lake Erie are not caused by Lake Erie, they're caused by the way we use the watershed around us," Bridgeman told 13abc. "We expect to get a big bloom and that should not be usual."