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Weather Changes Diminish the Lake Erie Algae Blooms, But New Rules May Be Helping, Too

A 2014 Lake Erie algae bloom that contaminated Toledo's water
A 2014 Lake Erie algae bloom that contaminated Toledo's water
A 2014 Lake Erie algae bloom that contaminated Toledo's water
Credit NOAA
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A 2014 Lake Erie algae bloom that contaminated Toledo's water

The algae bloom on Lake Erie has been smaller this season, due largely to the unusually hot and dry weather. Environmental scientists say recent efforts to control agricultural runoff, which feeds the algae, may be contributing to the smaller bloom, but it’s still too early to tell.

After 2014’s toxic algae bloom that contaminated Toledo’s drinking water, the state passed measures to help keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie. The iterim director of the Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory at Ohio State University, Chris Winslow, says monitoring of phosphorus levels in the lake is still being refined. But he says farmers are doing their part.

“There is an increased desire and increased adoption of some of the practices we’re recommending such as incorporating fertilizers, putting winter cover crops on. So there are some practices that we’re seeing through time increase. But are we actually able to measure what we’re seeing as a result of that yet? That’s to be determined.”

Winslow expects solid numbers to be available late next year. Meanwhile, this season’s smaller algae bloom has been good news for charter boat captains who’ve lost business during the past few years because of much larger blooms.

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