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Algae Forecast Brings Good News For Lake Erie, Northern Ohio

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Lake Erie has been plagued by toxic algae blooms in recent years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says this year’s algal bloom in western Lake Erie should be less severe than last year.

NOAA and its research partners say they expect “less discharge from the Maumee River and a return to an average nutrient runoff into the lake.”

Using a severity index, the report released on Thursday predicts the 2016 bloom will be 5.5.

The 2015 bloom in western Lake Erie registered at 10.5, the highest on record. The 2011 bloom registered at 10. Anything over 5 indicates “blooms of concern.”

The 2016 algal bloom is expected to appear this month and peak in August.

"This year we’ve added a Maumee River flow forecast model that increases our confidence in the seasonal outlook and may allow us to produce a specific harmful algal bloom forecast even earlier in the season,” Russell Callender, Ph.D., assistant NOAA administrator for the National Ocean Service, said in a prepared statement.

State environmental regulators have been working with farmers to limit fertilizer runoff, which is considered one of the largest contributors to algae blooms.

A massive algae bloom in 2014 tainted the water supply for the city of Toledo and prompted city officials to ban people from drinking city water for parts of three days.