Algal Blooms

Updated: Monday, 1:12 p.m.

On Friday, a green-ish scum began forming in places along the banks of the Ohio River. At the time, the executive director of the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) wasn't concerned, but that changed this weekend. 

Springfield Lake
GOOGLE EARTH

The village of Lakemore issued an advisory about harmful algal blooms on Springfield Lake.

Recent heavy rain caused more ground water runoff into the lake, which adds nutrients to the water and encourages algae growth. The algae produce toxins.

Summit County’s director of environmental health, Tonia Burford, says people should avoid contact with the water and be sure not to swallow it because that can lead to health problems.

Algae around a dock at kelley's Island
Ohio EPA

Here are your morning headlines for Thursday, July 11:

a photo of Joy Mulinex
SARAH TAYLOR / WKSU

The Cuyahoga River and many other Northern Ohio streams and rivers are part of the Lake Erie Watershed, which encompasses 33 of Ohio's 88 counties, or more than one-third of the state. The lake provides drinking water to millions of people.

This week our series "Watershed" is taking a closer look at Lake Erie.

photo of algae
NOAA

A Cleveland group has been awarded a grant for its work on a toxic algae early detection system for Lake Erie.

The Cleveland Water Alliance is being recognized by the Great Lakes Protection Fund for using technology to make Lake Erie healthier.  Alliance Director Bryan Stubbs said they plan to unveil a prototype of an algae early warning system next month, which could feed data to water treatment plants and, possibly in the future, the public.

Next Tuesday, Feb. 26, the residents of Toledo will have the chance to vote on an unusual (some might even say radical) proposal: whether to give the fourth largest lake in the United States its own Bill of Rights. If the ballot measure passes, it would be a win for the small but growing “rights of nature” movement, which aims to deter activities that pollute the environment by granting legal rights to ecosystems.

A photo of Lake Erie near Sandusky
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio Senate Republicans are saying one of their top goals is to protect what they believe to be the state’s number one natural resource: Lake Erie. They say keeping Lake Erie clean will be a team effort that doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of farmers.  

Sen. Bob Peterson of southeast Ohio said they want to bring in environmentalists, water treatment facility operators and farmers to make sure fertilizer and other nutrients don’t get into Lake Erie, causing harmful algal blooms.

photo of Dorothy Pelanda
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The new head of the Ohio Department of Agriculture is traveling around the state talking to farmers about their needs.

Former lawmaker Dorothy Pelanda says the goal of her listening tour is simple.

“To let them know who I am, to let them know that we want farmers and agri-business owners to be at the table, to work together as a team, to solve these issues of water quality and other things," she said.

ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The saga to implement tougher water quality standards to stop algae blooms in Lake Erie goes on. A state commission has decided once again to delay an order issued by the governor this summer. 

The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission split over its vote to delay Gov. John Kasich’s executive order on watersheds in western Ohio.

That order would create tougher regulations to keep fertilizer from running off farm land and into the Lake Erie basin.

Lake Erie’s harmful algae bloom season is over for the year, and it wasn’t as bad as scientists expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ranks this year’s algae bloom as relatively mild, a 3.6 on the agency’s bloom severity scale. That’s compared to an eight last year.

The forecast in July predicted the bloom would be significant – a six.

photo of David Daniels
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

With a little over two months left till he leaves office, Gov. John Kasich suddenly fired a cabinet member who’s been with him for six years.

David Daniels said on Friday he was called to a meeting in the governor’s office that had been scheduled a few days earlier, and said he was surprised at what happened.

“Upon arrival, I was informed that I serve at the pleasure of the governor, and my services would no longer be required,” he said.

Funding Fuels OSU Lab's Ability to Study Lake Erie

Oct 8, 2018
photo of Gibraltar Island
GOOGLE EARTH

New funding from the state will help researchers better examine environmental problems in Lake Erie.

Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory plans to build a $1.9 million laboratory on Gibraltar Island near Put-In-Bay and use additional funds for cutting-edge new equipment.

The money comes from the Clean Lake 2020 law passed by state legislators in July.

Stone Lab director Christopher Winslow says the technology will be used to monitor the lake and study issues like harmful algal blooms. He says it’s not just Stone Lab researchers who will benefit from the new lab space.

Algae Bloom seen from Lake Erie
NOAA / GLERL

A crowd sourcing effort is in the works to monitor toxic algae that is polluting Lake Erie.

University of Akron science professor Hunter King and his students are developing affordable, do-it-yourself measuring devices that the public will be able to build or buy.

King says they want to get materials in the hands of volunteer groups and schools to measure local water sources.

photo of Chippewa Lake
MEDINA COUNTY PARKS DISTRICT

Communities around Ohio are increasingly finding bodies of water turning toxic in late summer. Phosphorous runoff from farms creates conditions that feed harmful blooms. It’s happening repeatedly at Chippewa Lake in Medina County, which currently has an advisory indicating toxic levels that could kill pets and injure people.

Cleveland Water Alliance Asks Congress For Funding Help With Algae Bloom

Aug 30, 2018
View of Lake Erie
Jeff St. Clair / WKSU

Local officials are hoping Congress will help provide funding to clean up algae bloom in Lake Erie. Cleveland Water Alliance Director Bryan Stubbs testified before a committee Tuesday, asking for additional funding to resolve the issue of algal bloom.  The rapid increase of harmful algal bloom is sweeping across the United States, including Ohio.Stubbs and others told a U.S.

photo of Lake Erie algae bloom
ELIZABETH MILLER / IDEASTREAM

Gov. John Kasich is fighting for his clean Lake Erie initiative that includes tougher regulations on Ohio’s No. 1 industry. As Kasich argues, his proposed rules on fertilizer is in everyone’s best interest.

Photo of LeBron James
Brian Babineau / NBAE via Getty Images

Here are your morning headlines for Monday, June 2:

OSU research - algae
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

Researchers in Ohio are beginning a three-year study, looking for keys to predicting, mitigating, controlling or even preventing harmful algal blooms in rivers and streams all over the country. 

An Ohio State University team led by assistant professor Mazeika Sullivan of the environmental and natural resources school got the grant from the EPA.  They’re to analyze, and categorize algae activity throughout the upper Ohio River basin. 

Jamie Gellner of the Ohio Water Environment Association
OWE.org

In its fight against algae in Ohio’s lakes and streams, the Ohio EPA is moving to expand enforcement of one of its regulations. It’s a move that might cause a bump in some water bills.  

The increase would be about $1 a month per household, according to state and private-sector reports. The money is for upgrading wastewater plants so they release no more than 1-milligram of phosphorous per liter of output. Ohio EPA a bill passed next year to make that limit, now only enforced in the Lake Erie basin, apply everywhere.