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Lake Erie Algae Blooms May Have Peaked For Season

Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie
NASA Earth Observatory
Satellite view of toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie

The algae blooms in Lake Erie around Northeast Ohio may have reached their peak for the season. Heavy spring rains washed large amounts of phosphorous into the lake prompting concerns of serious toxic algae problems.

Laura Johnson, a researcher at the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in northwest Ohio, believes the algae peak has passed, citing shorter days, cooler temperatures and much of the phosphorous in the water being used up.  Johnson says the only thing that could possibly cause the algae blooms to re-generate would be very heavy rain.

“At this point in time the amount of rain we would need, it’s been so dry for so long it would be really, really high. And then there’s just not as many nutrients on the ground as there was earlier on, you know, the fertilizer, it’s been a very long time since it’s been applied and the crops have taken it up and people are harvesting now. So I think we’re in the clear for the rest of the year.”

Other researchers also believe the worst has likely passed. But some say calm winds and current water temperatures in the middle to upper sixties could spark a re-generation of the algae as late as mid-October.