Friday, September 7, 2018

Lake Erie Threatened by Harmful Algae Blooms

Mike Stermitz is an environmental and water quality specialist who has undertaken inspections of construction projects, oil and gas fields, and bodies of water all across the United States. Mike Stermitz is experienced in water quality assessments and the steps necessary to achieve a healthy ecosystem.

One major issue impacting the Great Lakes over the past decade has been a sharp rise in harmful algae blooms, with one in late 2017 encompassing 700 square miles across Lake Erie’s western basin. 

With researchers pointing toward an elevated use of fertilizers in surrounding agricultural land as a primary cause, the bright green algae blooms are a concern because of the presence of cyanobacteria, which can produce toxins.

One such toxin, microcystin, is capable of damaging the liver. With 3 million people dependent on Lake Erie’s central basin for drinking water, this poses a significant concern. In 2014 levels of microcystin reached potentially dangerous thresholds, and Toledo ceased delivering water to a half million local residents for three days. 

One University of Michigan aquatic ecologist blames the agriculture industry and its phosphorus inputs to the soil, stating that the threat will persist until this fundamental issue is taken care of.