New Prediction Tool for Lake Erie Algae

Lake Erie charter boat captains and managers of water treatment plants are breathing sighs of relief. Thatís because the summertime algae bloom thatís plagued this Great Lake since the mid 90s isnít expected to be as bad as last year. This was the finding from researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as they unveiled the first-ever seasonal forecast of harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie.

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SCHAEFER: NOAA researchers say this yearís near-drought conditions have given Lake Erie a break from the previous size of algae blooms. †Using satellite photos with special imaging techniques, NOAA scientist Richard Stumpf says he predicts this year's bloom will be moderate, similar to conditions last seen in 2007. †Stumpf says the object of the forecast is to help lake users plan for the worst. †He spoke at the Lake Erie island where the Ohio Sea Grant is based.

STUMPF: †It provides an opportunity for planning, for governments to plan, to decide what resources they need to use, if it's a utility, if it's a person planning vacations, if it's a charter boat captain, so they have some ideas what they're going to anticipate in a season.

SCHAEFER: Researchers say that last year, heavy spring and fall rains washing nutrients into the lake created a brilliant green mass of microcystis as thick as pea soup, stretching all the way from Toledo to east of Cleveland. But Stumpf and other researchers (scientists) warn that the harmful blooms could return next year unless nutrient runoff from agriculture, sewage treatment, and lawncare is sharply reduced. †This is the first location where NOAAís seasonal forecast technique is being used, but Stumpf says it has the potential to be used nationally. †For The Allegheny Front, I'm Karen Schaefer.