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

'Significant' bloom expected in western Lake Erie for the next few months

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Erie (file photo).

Western Lake Erie may see the third largest cyanobacterial bloom in the past 15 years this summer.

TheLake Erie forecast was released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which funds the research.

Cyanobacteria is fed byrunoff from farmers’ fields and urban sources.

Chris Winslow, the director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, says heavy rains have washed large amounts of phosphorus into Lake Erie. An estimated 85% of the phosphorus entering Lake Erie from the Maumee River comes from agricultural sources.

“You’re starting to see the growth of that organism,” says Winslow, describing greenish streaks appearing in western Lake Erie, “So basically, from now through the end of October, there will be the presence of these blooms in the lake.”

Researchers do not expect a repeat of 2014, which saw the city ofToledo forced to shut off its tap waterbecause of a large cyanobacterial bloom.

“Bloom predictions—regardless of size—do not necessarily correlate with public health risk,” says UM aquatic ecologist Don Scavia, “Local weather conditions, such as wind direction and water temperature, also play a role.”

Ohio Sea Grant’s Chris Winslow says tracking this year’s bloom will help those communities that need to treat Lake Erie water.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Related Content