Scientists: Large harmful algae bloom expected on Lake Erie this summer

Published: May. 30, 2019 at 11:06 PM EDT
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As the official start to summer nears so does the beginning of harmful algal bloom season.

"NOAA is currently predicting a large algal bloom for this year," Dr. Tom Bridgeman with The University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center said. "Probably in the top five that we've seen over the last 20 years. So yes, there will be a lot of the green stuff out on the lake this summer."

On a one to 10 scale, scientists predict this year's bloom on Lake Erie to be a 6.5. Data shows last year's was considered a 4.

"We could set a record, and that's not one of those records you want to set," president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association Paul Pacholski said.

Pacholski regularly cruises along the Maumee River in the Sandpiper. Right now he says it's easy to see the river pumping the lake full of runoff--all thanks to recent rains.

"One or two major rain events is all it takes to trigger an algal bloom--I've lost count," Pacholski said.

With the river in high-gear both scientists and Pacholski say that means nearly ideal conditions for harmful algae.

"When you have high flow rates like that you have high amounts of phosphorous, high amounts of nitrogen and high turbidity," Pacholski said.

While the green sludge isn't here yet, Pacholski says a big bloom almost always chokes out business on the water.

"This is a six month business and to lose over three months, a chunk like that, you're taking pretty much your profit out of it," Pacholski said.

For now all anyone can do is watch and wait while hoping this year's bloom doesn't meet expectations.

"I'm hopeful that it won't be as bad as predicted, but not optimistic," Pacholski said.

Despite predictions for a big bloom scientists say they're not exactly sure where it will set up shop. The toxicity of the bloom is also something that remains to be seen.

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