Algae

Update 9/12/2017: The  City of Toledo has moved its water quality dashboard back to clear.

For a city on Lake Erie, it's the season for monitoring toxic algae blooms -- and drinking water.

Toledo Ohio know how dangerous the blooms can be. In 2014, toxins contaminated its water supply, forcing a "do not drink or boil” advisory for two days.

As the algae bloom season continues, NASA has been experimenting with drones to photograph the spread of harmful algae.  In the meantime, private airplane pilots acting as citizen scientists are helping out.

NOAA

The more rain we have this spring, the bigger the Lake Erie algae bloom this summer -- and it’s been a wet spring.

Algae blooms in western Lake Erie are primarily due to excess nutrients from fertilizer chemicals running off farm land.  Some blooms can become toxic, shutting down beaches or sickening people and pets.

Rain helps phosphorus travel from farms to the lake through rivers including the Maumee in western Ohio – and tracking from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can predict the size of an algae bloom.

Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

The U.S. EPA has approved Ohio’s list of impaired waters, a disappointment to environmental groups that filed a lawsuit against the agency last month.

Ohio’s list did not include the open waters of western Lake Erie – and groups including the National Wildlife Federation said that was a serious omission.

In a statement, the Federation’s Frank Szollosi said the federal agency's decision to approve Ohio’s list without the open waters prolongs Lake Erie’s problems.

Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

Great Lakes Today's feature on Erie Hack, a regional technology competition, was featured on NPR's All Things Considered Monday.  

Reporter Elizabeth Miller highlighted a team of University of Akron scientists who made it to the finals of the competition.  The team, called Water Warriors, created an educational kit that helps students analyze water samples.

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