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Toxic bacterial blooms on Lake Erie won't be so bad this summer, forecasts say

Jeff Reutter
Ohio State University

It looks like the toxic bacterial blooms on Lake Erie won't be as bad this summer.

Last August the blooms, which look kind of like algae or pond scum, were dangerous enough that people in Toledo and parts of Michigan couldn't drink their tap water for a few days.

Early forecasts say the situation shouldn't be as severe this summer.

Gregory Dick is part of a University of Michigan team monitoring the bacteria.

He says they know the blooms are created by fertilizer washing off farm fields into rivers that feed into Lake Erie.

But they don’t know why some blooms become severely toxic – while others don’t.

“We think that potentially the type of nutrients that are in runoff in the rivers that are coming into Lake Erie could make a big difference,” he says.

“We’re doing this very fundamental, basic science on the blooms in Lake Erie with the hope that this will lead to a better understanding of what types of nutrients cause which types of blooms, and [that] would inform policies and land management practices.” 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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