Lake Erie algae spreads to Magee Marsh shoreline – Fremont News Messenger

Lake Erie algae spreads to Magee Marsh shoreline - Fremont News Messenger 4

CARROLL TOWNSHIP – Lake Erie’s harmful algal bloom season is starting to heat up.

An expansive bloom in western Lake Erie has spread to Ottawa County’s shoreline, with water surface algae visible at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge’s beach areas Monday morning.

Small amounts of toxic microcystins began showing up near the Ottawa County Regional Water Treatment Plant’s raw water intake in late July, a byproduct of Lake Erie’s harmful algal bloom that could end up being one of the worst in recent memory.

Eddy Pausch, ONWR assistant refuge manager, stood at the mouth of Crane Creek Monday and saw algae along Lake Erie’s shoreline.

“It’s definitely here. And you can smell it. There’s definitely a different odor in the air here,” Pausch said.

Researchers reported in July that they expect western Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms (HAB) to reach 7.5 on the NOAA severity index.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a bulletin Monday morning that showed the bloom extending from Maumee Bay north along the Michigan coast to Brest Bay, east along the Ohio coast to the Portage River, and up to seven miles east of West Sister Island.

The Ohio Department of Health issued an algae-related red flag advisory July 25 for Maumee Bay State Park in Lucas County.

This means the beach is under an elevated recreational public health advisory. The public is advised to avoid all contact with the water, where algal toxins at unsafe levels have been detected.

Camp Perry’s beach is under an ODH yellow flag contamination advisory for high bacteria levels, but the pollution source is unknown.

With a yellow flag, children, the elderly and those in ill health or with weakened immune systems are advised not to swim in that area.

As an emerald-green slick of algae sloshed back and forth along Magee Marsh’s shoreline Monday, leaving a green ring at water’s edge, Tiffin resident Mary Beth Byers combed the sand for beach glass.

Byers travels to Magee Marsh’s beach about every two months and has been visiting the wildlife area for the past two years.

She’d only found two pieces of glass Monday, but was surprised by algae far as the eye could see in Lake Erie.

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It was Byers’ first glimpse of algae in the lake.

“I wouldn’t go in it,” Byers said, adding, “I just wish they could clean it up somehow. I wouldn’t want to eat any fish out of here.”

Ottawa County’s Regional Water Treatment Plant detected toxic microcystins through sampling near its Lake Erie raw water intake July 26, but did not see any last week, according to county sanitary engineer Kelly Frey.

“I’m anticipating that this week may be different,” Frey said Tuesday, acknowledging that the algal bloom had arrived in waters off of Ottawa County.

Frey said he recently went out on Lake Erie and could see pea-green surface algae throughout the water.

Lake Erie algae spreads to Magee Marsh shoreline - Fremont News Messenger 5

Microcystins detected July 26 near the county plant’s raw water intake measured 0.69 parts per billion.

Frey said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires testing three times a week if that measurement reaches 5 parts per billion.

To keep a close watch on the algal bloom, Frey and the plant’s staff are monitoring radar and watching probes near Ottawa County’s raw water intake.

The Ottawa County plant spent more than $188,000 in 2018 on water treatment chemicals, including 41,246 pounds of carbon and more than 30,000 pounds of chlorine.

When toxic microcystins are found in water sampling, plant personnel can increase dosages of powder-activated carbon to the water, Frey said.

Lake Erie algae spreads to Magee Marsh shoreline - Fremont News Messenger 6

Pausch said the presence of algal blooms near ONWR’s shoreline has been pretty consistent the last few years.

In 2018, the bloom was not as prominent as previous years near the wildlife refuge.

ONWR does not monitor algae along its shoreline, Pausch said.

He said the refuge is still pumping lake water out of some of its marsh areas, the result of Lake Erie’s record-high water levels this year.

“The lake is still very high. That is our main concern,” Pausch said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District office reported Friday that the lake’s average water level is 14 inches higher than the corresponding time last year and six inches higher than the highest monthly average on record.

Previous coverage: Sen. Brown gets closeup look at Lake Erie algae issues

NOAA’s HAB forecast Monday predicts winds from 3-19 knots through Thursday, which will promote mixing and northeast transport of surface microcystis concentrations in the lake. 

Lake Erie’s harmful algal bloom typically peaks in the western part of the lake in September. 

There is a public HABS data portal online at habs.glos.us/map where residents can access readings across Lake Erie and see the latest dissolved oxygen, water temperature, blue-green algae and chlorophyll readings.

dacarson@gannett.com

419-334-1046

Twitter: @DanielCarson7

Source >>> Originally published at here

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