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Algae Bloom forecast for the Great Lakes

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Northwestern section of Lake Erie, 2011

There is some good news in store for the Great Lakes. A federal agency said Thursday morning that forecasts show the western side of Lake Erie will experience a less severe algae bloom this year. The blooms can limit recreation, cause health problems and taint drinking water. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year's bloom is expected to come in at 5.5 on the severity index -- about 50 percent of last year's record-setting level.

Credit NASA
The 2011 algae bloom in western Lake Erie

Last year, the algae bloom on the western portion of Lake Erie -- which has the most severe problem of all the all the Great Lakes -- covered 300 square miles in early and mid-August.

Algae blooms are in part caused by farm runoff and sewage overflows. According to NOAA the reduction in algae levels is due to less discharge from the Maumee River and nutrient runoff.   The Algae is expected to make its appearance in late July through August in western Lake Erie.

A coalition of environmental groups said the forecast “due to an unseasonably dry spring ... is not cause for celebration."

The U.S. and Canadian coalition, which includes the Alliance for the Great Lakes, said Ohio, Michigan and Ontario must do more to limit farm runoff.

NOAA produces the Lake Erie algae bloom forecast every year. It’s a part of the NOAA ecological forecasting initiative; in addition to the algae bloom it forecasts dead zones.

Algae Bloom Tips from the DEC

  • If you come across algae blooms, avoid them.
  • Pets and livestock should avoid contact with discolored water or water with algae scums on surface.
  • Algae blooms come in the shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown and red.
  • If you do come into contact with it wash and rinse the area with water.
  • Don’t drink surface water, because untreated surface water may have toxins or bacteria.

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