Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.
MEDIA ADVISORY
 
Contact:        Jill Jentes                                              FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
614-937-0072                                              June 25, 2013
                        jentes.1@osu.edu
           
Forecast for Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie in 2013
 
Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory to Host Press Briefing followed by Public Webinar to Explain NOAA’s 2013 Seasonal Forecast for the Severity of Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie
 
On July 2, Ohio Sea Grant’s Stone Laboratory will host a media briefing with laboratory demonstrations and an on-the-water field experience followed by a public webinar to explain NOAA’s 2013 Seasonal Forecast of Harmful Algal Blooms for Lake Erie. The event will feature expert commentary, a discussion of the history of this issue on Lake Erie, Ohio’s response to the problem, and strategies to solve the problem. Lunch will be provided with abundant opportunities for one-on-one interviews with the experts.
 
WHAT:            Media briefing, water quality laboratory demonstrations, on-water field experience, and public webinar led by regional and national experts to explain NOAA’s 2013 HAB forecast for Lake Erie.
 
WHEN:             1)  Media Briefing and Lab/Field Experience:  Tuesday, July 2, 10:00 a.m. EDST followed by complimentary press lunch.  Participants should take the Miller Ferry departing from Catawba Point at 9:00 a.m.  Stone Lab staff will meet the ferry and transport participants to the Laboratory for the briefing.
 
                        2)  Public Webinar:  Tuesday, July 2, 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDST
                        Visit the following site to register for the webinar
                        http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/events/?eventID=515
 
WHO:              Scientists from Ohio State University’s Sea Grant Program and Stone Laboratory, NOAA, Heidelberg University, Ohio EPA, and elected officials  including:
 
·       Hon. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senate (invited)
·       Hon. Rob Portman, U.S. Senate (invited)
·       Hon. Marcy Kaptur, U.S. House of Representatives, 9th District (invited)
·       Hon. Randy Gardner, State Senator
·       Hon. Chris Redfern, State Representative
·       Scott Nally, Director, Ohio EPA
·       Gail Hesse, Chair, Ohio Phosphorus Task Force II
·       Captain Rick Unger, President, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association
·       Dr. Jeff Reutter, Director, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory (event host)
·       Dr. Rick Stumpf, NOAA (HAB model and forecast expert)
·       Dr. Mark Monaco, NOAA Research Center Director
·       Dr. Pete Richards, Senior Research Scientist, National Center for Water Quality Research, Heidelberg University (nutrient expert)
·       Dr. Justin Chaffin, Stone Laboratory Research Coordinator
 
WHERE:           The Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant, Stone Laboratory
Gibraltar Island, Put-in-Bay, Ohio 43456
 
RSVP:             RSVP by 3p.m. July 1 to Jill Jentes via email at jentes.1@osu.edu or by calling 614-937-0072, for further details and directions.  Visit the following site to register for the webinar:  http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/events/?eventID=515
 
Located on the 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is the Ohio State University's island campus on Lake Erie and the education and research facility of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. The Ohio State University's Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu. 
                                                                   ##
 
Jeffrey M. Reutter, Ph.D., Director
Ohio Sea Grant College Program
F.T. Stone Laboratory
Center for Lake Erie Area Research (CLEAR) and the
Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium (GLAERC)
The Ohio State University
Area 100 Research Center
1314 Kinnear Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43212
t: (614) 292-8949 | f: (614) 292-4364 | e:  reutter.1@osu.edu
ohioseagrant.osu.edu | stonelab.osu.edu
"Always do right.  This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."   --Mark Twain
"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."  --Will Rogers
"Learn from the mistakes of others--you won't live long enough to make them all yourself."
"Being humble doesn't mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less."
"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can."--John Wesley
"A man's greatness is determined by how many people he serves, not by how many people serve him."
"The more you learn the more you recognize your ignorance.  I am simply an ignorant man trying to lessen his ignorance."
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, love only what we understand, and understand only what we are taught." -- Baba Dioum, Ecologist

 

Toxic Algae Puts Lake Erie at Risk

Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms Workshops
March 16 in Toledo, March 30 in Columbus
 
Best practices and legal tools to combat harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie will be the focus of two workshops, on March 16 in Toledo and March 30 in Columbus, sponsored by the University of Toledo College of Law and Ohio Sea Grant. The half-day workshops are free and open to the public.
Harmful algal blooms, toxin-producing algae that form during the summer, are an increasingly severe problem in Lake Erie. Triggered primarily by excess phosphorus, they adversely impact aquatic life and human health as well as recreation, tourism, fishing and property values. These workshops will feature experts from law, science and government addressing ways to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Erie and its tributaries from key Ohio sources.
The workshops will be held March 16 at the University of Toledo College of Law and March 30 at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Assembly Center. More information about the workshops is available athttp://law.utoledo.edu/ligl/habs_workshops.htm. Contact donna.amstutz@utoledo.edu or 419-530-2851 to register.
 
 
Ken Kilbert
Associate Professor
Director, Legal Institute of the Great Lakes
University of Toledo College of Law
2801 W. Bancroft St.
Toledo, OH 43606
419.530.5597
Kenneth.Kilbert@utoledo.edu

Wednesday December 14, 2011 3:22 pm 

Lake Erie has never been choked with as much toxic algae, a fact that state wildlife officials say poses a threat to the lake’s fish population and tourism.

The level of phosphorous, which feeds algae blooms, is above safe levels in nearly every section of the lake, according to a report presented this morning by Roger Knight, Lake Erie program administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“The trends are moving in the wrong direction no matter where on the lake you go,” Knight said at a meeting of the Lake Erie Commission in Columbus. “We are way above targets.”

Analysis has shown yield of walleye and yellow perch — the lake’s two most lucrative sports fish species — drops significantly as the level of algae rises. While the fish are capable of living in algae-infested water, they lose clarity of sight, which throws off the natural food chain.

Knight said one reason for the spike in phosphorous levels is that there has been greater run off of farm fertilizer this year due to record rainfall.

Complicating matters is that much of the phosphorous in Lake Erie is dissolved into the water, making it immediately available to feed algae growth, as opposed to particulate phosphorous — phosphorous that has chemically bonded to dirt or plants — which is less potent and accessible to algae.

“Dissolved phosphorous is the issue,” said Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, who added that his office will submit a proposal to counteract the Lake Erie pollution to Gov. John Kasich by February.

Erie is in trouble

 

Great Lakes region must act now to address new threats 

 

 Updated: November 27, 2011, 9:20 AM

 

Tributaries of Lake Erie aren’t catching fire as they did a half-century ago. But by several important measures, the lake — generally considered the bellwether for the health of the other four Great Lakes—has declined to a point as bad as or worse than it has ever been.

 

Researchers believe this year’s mass of algae at the western end of the lake, which borders on Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, probably has set a new record. And the dead zones in the central part of the lake also may be the largest ever. It won’t be enough to rest on the legacy of the work done cleaning up Lake Erie in the 1960s and 1970s, a point driven home during a massive gathering of clean water agencies and advocates in Detroit last month.

 

Although industries have cleaned up their act and generally sustained good practices—hence the end of burning rivers and the decline in terrifying contaminants—the lakes face a series of ongoing assaults and new threats barely foreseen in the 1960s.

 

Good policy, sustained funding and intensified research are essential. Lovers of the Great Lakes must demand action—or risk reversing all the hard work done in previous generations.

 

Something is going very wrong in Lake Erie.

 

And that means something is going very wrong for bordering states, whose economic and cultural health is so dependent on keeping the Great Lakes vibrant and clean.

 

Scientists have long believed that as Erie goes, so go the other four, because problems affecting them all have the biggest and most obvious impacts first on the shallowest of the five lakes.

 

With Erie’s health in jeopardy, years after Herculean efforts to clean it up, there’s a dire need to take action before it worsens—and spreads.

 

In August, for example, the view from space showed algae spanning almost the entire western basin of Lake Erie. Well into October, stringy swirls and vast near-shore swaths remained.

 

The algae can choke out other life. It creates even more problems —and stink—as it dies off. And the mass of algae in Lake Erie is increasingly dominated by more toxic varieties that already have been known to poison pets.

 

Research to date suggests the problem arises from a combination of agricultural practices and the weather.

 

But no one can do much about the weather, in this case the increase in major downpours that flush fertilizing phosphorus off fields rather than helping it soak in. Last spring was particularly rainy, almost certainly a factor in this summer’s algae growth.

 

Another factor, tentatively identified by University of Michigan researcher Donald Scavia, is a trend toward fall fertilization on farms, rather than waiting to do it entirely in the spring each year.

 

Among the confounding factors: Back when Lake Erie was in trouble before, researchers knew that keeping soil on the fields would also help keep fertilizer on the fields. Farmers made dramatic improvements in reducing the sediments that got swept away—only to find now that the phosphorus somehow escapes on its own to nourish the algae.

 

Continued agricultural research can presumably solve the riddle of timing and placement of fertilizer, but it must be done quickly and it must be well-funded.

 

Meanwhile, climate trends are hardly in Lake Erie’s favor.

 

The frequency of heavy rains began increasing in the 1990s, Scavia said, and is expected to double by the end of the century. A longer growing season—one of the potential pluses of climate change, in some people’s view—also gives

 

algae more time to grow each year. At least one new type of algae has been found, and the mix of algae types runs heavily toward those that have toxic qualities.

 

The lake’s dead zones also are growing. They occur when decaying material, such as from algae, takes up so much oxygen that none remains in the water for fish and other biological entities that need it.

 

And Toledo, whose water intake is perilously close to where major algae blooms can form, now spends an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a day on filtration to keep its drinking water safe, according to a University of Toledo researcher.

 

Scavia’s research suggests that the arrival of zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Erie has not been a determining factor, although it’s hard to believe they don’t contribute at least a bit to the problem. As for fertilizer types, agricultural studies to date suggest the problems are just as severe in tributary basins where farmers don’t use liquid manure as in those where they do. And since farmers would rather grow crops on their fields than algae in Lake Erie, they are very likely to follow whatever guidance they can get on fertilizing — but someone has to figure it out first.

 

And the explosion of algae, in all its complexity, is only one of the problems facing the lakes.

 

Several groups joined together recently for Great Lakes Week, making all of the serious issues highly visible. This unprecedented event offered the best opportunity yet for everyone involved with the lakes to mingle, to work toward maximum coordination of research, restoration and activism, and to speak with one voice in Washington and Ottawa, and in state and provincial capitals.

 

The problems are both new and old—algae in Lake Erie being the best example of an old horror story spinning off an even more frightening sequel.

 

The other threats are equally large, and often as complex:

 

  • Invasive species: A newer problem, the ongoing threat of invasive species continues to top most people’s lists. There’s no doubt they have upset, and perhaps decimated, the balance of food for fish in the lakes, in addition to other problems they cause.
  • Overflows and runoff: After strong progress on upgrades to sewage-treatment plants decades ago, storm-induced overflows increasingly put more waste into the water again. Combined with the effects of surface runoff, that impact shows most obviously on beaches that must be closed to swimmers after major rainstorms.
  • Contaminants: The lakes face other, less visible threats, too. The ban on dioxins and PCBs led to a decline of their presence in the lakes, but they still show up in fish tissue. And so do many of the chemicals that replaced them. Pharmaceuticals and compounds used in personal care and cleaning products are detectable in the water, too. Dangerous substances such as mercury continue to drop into the big lakes and inland waterways, washed in by rain after they’ve risen from the smokestacks of sources such as coal-fired power plants.

 

The most encouraging news involves parts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other projects that have begun to take hold.

 

The Great Lakes Legacy Act, the result of a long campaign by former U. S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., gathered enough steam that some of the region’s biggest toxic hot spots are being dredged out and restored. Within a year, three of these spots will be ready for delisting from their Areas of Concern designation. Over the next two-year cycle, assuming consistent funding, five areas are to be cleaned and delisted.

 

Restoration activities appear to have exploded this summer. Wetlands have been restored, land-based invasive species have been cleared out, partners have worked together along shorelines and riverbanks all across the basin to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in areas that feed the lakes. Several of these projects got targeted to accompany work at Areas of Concern, so the newly cleaned spots will also be newly welcoming to wildlife — and people.

 

And, as beautiful as the lakes are, people remain the bottom line. Beauty has little value if the water doesn’t meet the three priorities for human use: drinkable, swimmable, fishable. Lake Erie is coming perilously close to being none of those things. As a harbinger, it is a call to action.

 

Related Article(s)

Erie is in trouble

Great Lakes region must act now to address new threats 

 Updated: November 27, 2011, 9:20 AM

Tributaries of Lake Erie aren’t catching fire as they did a half-century ago. But by several important measures, the lake — generally considered the bellwether for the health of the other four Great Lakes—has declined to a point as bad as or worse than it has ever been.

Researchers believe this year’s mass of algae at the western end of the lake, which borders on Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, probably has set a new record. And the dead zones in the central part of the lake also may be the largest ever. It won’t be enough to rest on the legacy of the work done cleaning up Lake Erie in the 1960s and 1970s, a point driven home during a massive gathering of clean water agencies and advocates in Detroit last month.

Although industries have cleaned up their act and generally sustained good practices—hence the end of burning rivers and the decline in terrifying contaminants—the lakes face a series of ongoing assaults and new threats barely foreseen in the 1960s.

Good policy, sustained funding and intensified research are essential. Lovers of the Great Lakes must demand action—or risk reversing all the hard work done in previous generations.

Something is going very wrong in Lake Erie.

And that means something is going very wrong for bordering states, whose economic and cultural health is so dependent on keeping the Great Lakes vibrant and clean.

Scientists have long believed that as Erie goes, so go the other four, because problems affecting them all have the biggest and most obvious impacts first on the shallowest of the five lakes.

With Erie’s health in jeopardy, years after Herculean efforts to clean it up, there’s a dire need to take action before it worsens—and spreads.

In August, for example, the view from space showed algae spanning almost the entire western basin of Lake Erie. Well into October, stringy swirls and vast near-shore swaths remained.

The algae can choke out other life. It creates even more problems —and stink—as it dies off. And the mass of algae in Lake Erie is increasingly dominated by more toxic varieties that already have been known to poison pets.

Research to date suggests the problem arises from a combination of agricultural practices and the weather.

But no one can do much about the weather, in this case the increase in major downpours that flush fertilizing phosphorus off fields rather than helping it soak in. Last spring was particularly rainy, almost certainly a factor in this summer’s algae growth.

Another factor, tentatively identified by University of Michigan researcher Donald Scavia, is a trend toward fall fertilization on farms, rather than waiting to do it entirely in the spring each year.

Among the confounding factors: Back when Lake Erie was in trouble before, researchers knew that keeping soil on the fields would also help keep fertilizer on the fields. Farmers made dramatic improvements in reducing the sediments that got swept away—only to find now that the phosphorus somehow escapes on its own to nourish the algae.

Continued agricultural research can presumably solve the riddle of timing and placement of fertilizer, but it must be done quickly and it must be well-funded.

Meanwhile, climate trends are hardly in Lake Erie’s favor.

The frequency of heavy rains began increasing in the 1990s, Scavia said, and is expected to double by the end of the century. A longer growing season—one of the potential pluses of climate change, in some people’s view—also gives

algae more time to grow each year. At least one new type of algae has been found, and the mix of algae types runs heavily toward those that have toxic qualities.

The lake’s dead zones also are growing. They occur when decaying material, such as from algae, takes up so much oxygen that none remains in the water for fish and other biological entities that need it.

And Toledo, whose water intake is perilously close to where major algae blooms can form, now spends an additional $3,000 to $4,000 a day on filtration to keep its drinking water safe, according to a University of Toledo researcher.

Scavia’s research suggests that the arrival of zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Erie has not been a determining factor, although it’s hard to believe they don’t contribute at least a bit to the problem. As for fertilizer types, agricultural studies to date suggest the problems are just as severe in tributary basins where farmers don’t use liquid manure as in those where they do. And since farmers would rather grow crops on their fields than algae in Lake Erie, they are very likely to follow whatever guidance they can get on fertilizing — but someone has to figure it out first.

And the explosion of algae, in all its complexity, is only one of the problems facing the lakes.

Several groups joined together recently for Great Lakes Week, making all of the serious issues highly visible. This unprecedented event offered the best opportunity yet for everyone involved with the lakes to mingle, to work toward maximum coordination of research, restoration and activism, and to speak with one voice in Washington and Ottawa, and in state and provincial capitals.

The problems are both new and old—algae in Lake Erie being the best example of an old horror story spinning off an even more frightening sequel.

The other threats are equally large, and often as complex:

  • Invasive species: A newer problem, the ongoing threat of invasive species continues to top most people’s lists. There’s no doubt they have upset, and perhaps decimated, the balance of food for fish in the lakes, in addition to other problems they cause.
  • Overflows and runoff: After strong progress on upgrades to sewage-treatment plants decades ago, storm-induced overflows increasingly put more waste into the water again. Combined with the effects of surface runoff, that impact shows most obviously on beaches that must be closed to swimmers after major rainstorms.
  • Contaminants: The lakes face other, less visible threats, too. The ban on dioxins and PCBs led to a decline of their presence in the lakes, but they still show up in fish tissue. And so do many of the chemicals that replaced them. Pharmaceuticals and compounds used in personal care and cleaning products are detectable in the water, too. Dangerous substances such as mercury continue to drop into the big lakes and inland waterways, washed in by rain after they’ve risen from the smokestacks of sources such as coal-fired power plants.

The most encouraging news involves parts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other projects that have begun to take hold.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act, the result of a long campaign by former U. S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., gathered enough steam that some of the region’s biggest toxic hot spots are being dredged out and restored. Within a year, three of these spots will be ready for delisting from their Areas of Concern designation. Over the next two-year cycle, assuming consistent funding, five areas are to be cleaned and delisted.

Restoration activities appear to have exploded this summer. Wetlands have been restored, land-based invasive species have been cleared out, partners have worked together along shorelines and riverbanks all across the basin to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in areas that feed the lakes. Several of these projects got targeted to accompany work at Areas of Concern, so the newly cleaned spots will also be newly welcoming to wildlife — and people.

And, as beautiful as the lakes are, people remain the bottom line. Beauty has little value if the water doesn’t meet the three priorities for human use: drinkable, swimmable, fishable. Lake Erie is coming perilously close to being none of those things. As a harbinger, it is a call to action.

Related Article(s)
Toxic Algae Puts Lake Erie At Risk


 

Related Article(s)
Erie In Trouble