Residents learn about water quality during river boat cruise

Published: Aug. 6, 2016 at 9:59 PM EDT
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Harmful algal blooms are an ongoing worry.

On Saturday, experts cruised the Maumee River talking about water quality to area residents.

Many factors come into play when we talk about the health of the river. Experts say a lot of what's going on in the river and Lake Erie has to do with what's happening on land.

A big group boarded the Sandpiper for the Water Quality Boat Cruise. Partners for Clean Streams and Lucas Soil & Water conservation District, with funding from the Maumee Area of Concern Advisory Committee (MAAC) co-hosted the event.

The group headed to the mouth of the Mighty Maumee, learning along the way.

"Different perspective of what people normally drive over every single day, this time we're getting out on the river and seeing it from the river's point of view," said Ava Foster, an outreach coordinator with Partners for Clean Streams.

A local high school teacher was one of the participants and says he talks with students about toxic algae and solutions.

"I'm hoping this will give me an opportunity to learn a little bit more about what's causing those and what we can do to remediate it," said Chris Moore, an Archbold High School environmental science teacher. "I think we're headed in the right direction but we have a ways to go."

Water officials were on board the boat fielding questions. A member with the USDA spoke about changes the agricultural community is making to curb farm runoffs.

"We've had hundreds of thousands more acres gone into cover crops which is a tool that we use to keep soil in place as well as the nutrients in place when there's not a growing crop," said Cheryl Rice, an Urban Resource Conservationist with the United States Department of Agriculture. "So after one of those crops is coming off that we do for cash production, they put on a cover crop to keep things in place and that's one tool that they've used and been very excited in this watershed."

Ms. Rice many producers in our area use cereal rye or annual rye as a cover crop. This helps minimize soil and nutrient runoffs after harvest season, making for a healthier river and lake.

The dry summer is helping to curb toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.

But the Maumee River in Defiance is having algae problems, the conservationist we talked with today says that's due to the lack of rain which normally would help flush it out to the lake.