Harmful algal blooms that have caused problems in western Lake Erie are expected to be smaller this year than last year, according to forecasting data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The state said the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for an action plan for the algal blooms.
According to the state, the agencies have created the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan, which has a goal to reduce phosphorous, which is a root cause of the harmful algal blooms, by 40% by 2025.
The NOAA models show that the harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie is expected to measure at a 3.5 on the severity index compared to a 6 recorded last summer. A measurement of five or higher is considered a severe bloom.
In 2011 and in 2015, there were extremely high blooms measuring 10 and 10.5 respectively.
Blooms consist of cyanobacteria – blue-green algae – which can produce microcystin, a known liver toxin that poses a threat to people and wildlife.
Several factors contribute to the algal blooms, including nutrient-rich water from wastewater treatment plants, farm fields and fertilized lawns, invasive species and more. There are also other factors that aren't understood quite yet.
The Lake Erie HABs consist of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, which can produce microcystin, a known liver toxin that poses a threat to people and wildlife. These blooms can also close beaches and force local water supplies to increase chemical treatment of their source water.
In Lake Erie, several factors contribute to algal blooms. Nutrient-rich water from wastewater treatment plants, farm fields and fertilized lawns, the effects of invasive species, and the warm, shallow waters of the lake are some of the known contributors, but there may be others that aren’t quite understood yet.