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NOAA Predicts Near Record Algae Outbreaks In Lake Erie This Summer

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers say Lake Erie could see one of the most severe outbreaks of toxic algae blooms this summer. Independent producer Karen Schaefer reports for Ohio Public Radio.

SCHAEFER: The updated forecast for this year’s algae bloom in western Lake Erie is grim.  NOAA scientist Rick Stumpf says the bloom will undoubtedly be worse than last year.  
STUMPF:  We are looking at more severe than 2014, not as bad as 2011. But potentially this could be the second worst bloom that we have seen on Lake Erie.  
SCHAEFER:  In 2011, Lake Erie’s worst-ever toxic bloom drifted far east of Cleveland. Last year, the city of Toledo had to shut down its water supply for nearly three days.  Stumpf says it was this year’s record June rainfall that tipped the scales, washing phosphorus that feeds the algae from farmland into the lake.  But Stumpf believes most water treatment plants should be able to overcome the blooms.  
STUMPF: They’re ready, like Toledo is well-stocked with all the chemicals that are required.  The practical problem will be the cost.  
SCHAEFER:  Water plant managers say new, two-stage limits on algae toxins from the US EPA will help them make sure that Lake Erie drinking water is safe. And bi-weekly NOAA bulletins on algae blooms will help boaters, fishermen, and vacationers know which areas to avoid.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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