The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that this year's algae growth in Lake Erie could rival 2011's record-setting severity. Historically, the water hazards mostly affect western Lake Erie — Toledo and thereabouts — but the annual bloom and its effects should be heeded by all in the region.
Algae in Lake Erie flourish on nutrients often accrued through agricultural runoff, as well as sunlight and warm water temperature, according to NASA. As the blooms grow in density, fish species can die off and local governments must contend with quickly diminished access to clean drinking water. (See: Toledo last year.)
Ohio farmers began receiving a five-year, $12.25 million disbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture this year to begin honing their conservation chops and slowing down the runaway runoff practices. In April, a new law went into effect in Ohio, prohibiting farmers from applying fertilizer to frozen fields, which is expected to cut down on runoff.
Those are longer-term solutions to the root problem, and Ohio has been duly lauded for those beginnings, but local and state officials are still left with this year's bloom.
The most recent reports out of Toledo maintain that the water is safe to drink, but that city analysts will be watching toxin levels quite closely.