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Environment


Ohio's toxic alge blooms, and winter may have made it worse
Ohio's U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is sponsoring a bill to boost federal research into the problem
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Warning signs are going up at Grand Lake St. Marys. As many as two dozen lakes and reservoirs have been affected by the blooms in the last five years.
Courtesy of Ohio EPA
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In The Region:

In what’s become a sure sign of summer, warning signs about toxic algae are going up at Grand Lake St. Marys. The shallow western Ohio lake is often hardest hit of Ohio’s lakes and reservoirs, but rarely the only one fighting the blooms. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the multi-level effort.

LISTEN: The ongoing fight

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The blue-green algae is associated with a liver toxin, and early readings at Grand Lake St. Marys by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show levels more than four times higher than state safety limits.

The algae blooms stem from phosphorus, much of it from farm and sewage runoff.  Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has repeatedly toured areas hit by the algae – including Lake Erie -- and says scientists have dashed his hopes that the harsh winter may have killed off some of the blooms this year.

"Sometimes, the cold winter kills some forms of algae they would consider good algae and makes it easier for the more harmful algae to blossom and creates even a bigger problem. I hope that's not going to be the case, but I'm concerned about it. So from a federal level we want to provide the best research to the folks on the ground so they are able to respond with the best science available and begin to deal with this issue." 

Portman is sponsoring a bill to boost federal research. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is limiting how much manure farmers can spread on their fields near at Grand Lake St. Marys.

 

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