91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Researchers forecast Lake Erie cyanobacteria blooms to be below average

Mark Brush
Michigan Radio

Researchers say they expect cyanobacteria blooms on Lake Erie to be smaller than average. On a scale of one-to-ten, the severity of the blooms is forecast to be a ‘three.’

The harmful algal blooms can produce a toxin that can harm the liver in people and animals.

“What we're looking at fundamentally is a bloom similar last year, but I like to note is for the first time in a decade, we're actually looking at two consecutive years with a relatively mild bloom,” said Rick Stumpf, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

He says that doesn’t mean the problem with phosphorous running off farmland is getting any better.

“This is resulting from a drier spring. This is from low flow, not a reduction in the actual concentration of nutrients into the water.”

With the rivers not flowing as much, not as much phosphorous reached Lake Erie to trigger larger cyanobacteria blooms.

“While this year’s forecast is smaller than the long-term average, the long-term average is not the goal. We cannot just cross our fingers and hope that drier weather will keep us safe,” said aquatic ecologist Don Scavia in a statement issued by the University of Michigan, one of the research partners.

Things could change because of weather or other factors. You can find the latest harmful algal bloom information here.  

Want to support reporting like this? Consider making a gift to Michigan Radio today.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
Related Content