Lake Erie algae bloom predicted to be smaller

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT
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It's looking like a smaller than normal algae bloom this year in Lake Erie. But it's not the only place dealing with the green goo.

Experts agree the algae bloom will not be totally gone this year. It lives on but it some newer places. This year's first noticeable bloom is stuck in the Maumee River

"The water is pretty much stopping in downtown Toledo,” said Dr. Rick Stumpf of NOAA.

Through downtown Toledo this week we've seen the pea soup remnants. It's occurring here because of low river flow and high lake levels. It’s trapping the phosphorus, creating a bloom.

“You do get blooms to form in rivers under very low flow and so the lake is just holding it in,” said Stumpf.

A bloom that normally ends up in Lake Erie. Thursday morning experts from NOAA and Ohio State's Stone Lab pegged this year's bloom at 4.5 out of 10. Last year was 7.3. That is good news meaning some of the steps to stop the bloom are working.

Environmental experts said some of the measures take time. Fertilizer application changes today may still not affect what's been in the soil for a while.

"That big chunk that reflects possibly that longer term, you can call it legacy but we don't really know how old it is, forms of phosphorus. It's just going to take a little time," said Dr. Laura Johnson of Heidelberg University.

There are some positive steps for 2020. Experts are seeing more and more farmers for example reducing runoff, planting more cover crops for example. Some of these measures are expensive, making that work out with helping the lake continues to be a challenge.