Blue-Green Algae Affecting Lake Erie’s Water Supply

What’s green and smelly that you definitely don’t want to drink right before Halloween? Lake Erie, and it’s not a joke. The lake is covered in blue-green algae or cyanobacteria and it is starting to pose a health threat close to our area.

You can see it best via satellite images taken on September 26, 2017, by the Landsat 8 satellite. While “our side” of the lake is still algae free, the western shoreline of Michigan, Ohio and even up into Ontario is covered with the thick green slime.

What’s causing the blue-green algae bloom on Lake Erie?

Microcystis, a type of freshwater cyanobacteria or phytoplankton that thrives (and multiplies) on phosphorus in warm water, is the cause of the algae bloom, and it seems that Lake Erie has plenty of phosphorus despite all our work since the 1960s to clean it up. Phosphorus drains into the lake from agricultural runoff, septic runoff, roadwork runoff, and of course lawns and golf courses. This algae produces toxins that cause skin irritation (rashes) and respiratory distress (coughing and sneezing) and it can also contaminate drinking water. The contaminated water stinks.

What can our legislators do to stop the blue-green algae outbreak?

The Senate passed legislation for funding of research to solve the problem – actually reopening legislation set up in 2014 with a few changes. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, authored the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act with Senators Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and Gary Peters, D-Michigan which:

  • Reauthorizes the act through 2022
  • Adds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Task Force
  • Could provide funding to communities with significant toxic algae outbreaks “to help protect against environmental, economic, and public health risks” by identifying the cause of the outbreak, monitoring the outbreak, and mitigating the extent of the outbreak.
  • Provides Congress with a scientific assessment report of harmful algae blooms, including those on the Great Lakes. The most recent report “Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia in the Great Lakes Research Plan and Action Strategy: An Interagency Report,” was released in August 2017.

The idea is to try and protect Lake Erie and other fresh water from toxic algae because they supply drinking water to millions of people.

What can you do to prevent blue-green algae from affecting your drinking water?

Homeowners in Meadville and the surrounding counties can count on Clearwater Systems to provide the most cost-effective and efficient water filtration systems for their homes and businesses. As an example, the Kinetico K5 Drinking Water System provides your family or employees with water that is 99% free of contaminants, which is more than any other drinking water system. Avoiding toxins from blue-green algae blooms is only one of many reasons to purchase one of our Kinetico home water systems. To learn more, you can contact Clearwater Systems at 1-888-928-3710 to discuss getting clean drinking water in your home or office.