Federal Legislation May Help to Alleviate Lake Erie's Algal Bloom Problem

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A satellite photo of the 2011 algal bloom in Lake Erie.
  • A satellite photo of the 2011 algal bloom in Lake Erie.


If Lake Erie’s greenish hue hasn’t given it away, Cleveland has a bit of algal bloom problem. It’s nothing new — the slimy biomasses, fueled by warm temperatures and phosphorous from fertilizers, have been plaguing the Great Lake since 2002 — but the organisms continue to do great damage to the ecosystem by depriving the lake of valuable oxygen. They also produce a liver toxin, making swimming a dangerous proposition and harming the area’s tourism industry in the process.

Consolation yesterday came in the form of the U.S. House’s vote to pass the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act (say that three times fast), reauthorization of a 1998 law that sets aside funding for algal bloom testing and study. Importantly, this version of the legislation adds a fresh water and Great Lakes component to the program, presumably greater incentive for scientists to study the issue facing Northeast Ohio.

We can only hope the research prevents another bloom like 2011’s, which covered a distance of 2,000 square miles and could be seen from outer space.


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