Serious Algae Problems On Lake Erie

A member of the Ohio Air National Guard carries a bag of safe water.

A member of the Ohio Air National Guard carries a bag of safe drinking water.


This is have been an interesting story to follow. It seems that due to high levels of phosphorus and other nutrients, some toxic algae blooms are now affecting the drinking water of millions of people in Northwest Ohio.

Over the years, we’ve talked about algae blooms that can affect drinking water and usually, ever once in awhile, you hear about a toxic bloom that has killed livestock or pets. Sometimes even wildlife.

But in truth, it’s been rare to hear of an algae issue affecting so many people. But today, millions of folks are now being impacted by the problems on Lake Erie.

This is a serious issue because we all know how important clean drinking water is, and when that get’s fouled up, well, what other options do you have?

Right now, water is being brought in for folks in Toledo and other locations. And it will probably be an issue until the weather cools off.

You see, this kind of algae, is just like any other type that you might run into in your pond or water garden. Granted, most of these aren’t toxic but when blue green algae get’s dense enough, you can run into some toxicity issues. Algae is always present in these waters, but what spikes the growth and really makes them potentially dangerous is the nutrients that feed them.

And in the case of Lake Erie, the sources of those nutrients are numerous.

Fertilizers used by farmers is one catalyst.

Researchers largely blame the algae’s resurgence on manure and chemical fertilizer from farms that wash into the lake along with sewage treatment plants. Leaky septic tanks and stormwater drains have contributed, too. Combined, they flush huge amounts of phosphorus into the lake.

Environmental groups and water researchers have been calling on Ohio and other states in the Great Lakes region to drastically reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing into the lake. Ohio lawmakers this past spring took a step toward tackling the algae problem when they enacted a law requiring most farmers to undergo training before they use commercial fertilizers on their fields.But they have stopped short of mandating restrictions on farmers.

It’s really hard to tell at this point whether these meager steps will be enough to curb the seasonal problems that the algae blooms might create. Time will tell on all of that.

In the meantime, you can use this example as further evidence and inspiration. If you think there is a better way to keep algae at bay, over and above nutrient control, you’re mistaken. It is the best way possible. And it’s the first method that should be employed before chemicals are even considered.

The approach is simple. Clean up the water. Clean up the pond. Reduce the nutrients (primarily with beneficial bacteria )that go into the water and more often than not, the algae will reduce too!

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