The 2013 algae season for Lake Erie has come to an end.. The water is cooler and the algae gone.. 2013 turned out to be the second worst year for algae in Lake Erie next to 2011. The algae corralled in the far western basin beginning the end of July and reportedly extended down ten feet or more in the water. In 2013 for the first time ever, a public water supply in Carroll Township closed because of the above World Health Organization recommended levels of microcystin, a neurotoxin. The algae also caused problems on the Lake Erie southern shores of Ontario and as far east as Presque Aisle in Erie, Pennsylvania. Western Lake Erie and its tributaries need a TMDL – Total Maximum Daily Load – which is used in the Chesapeake, Fox River and is now being developed on the Ohio River…
The Ohio Phosphorus Task Force 2 Report is out. The report relies on voluntary measures to reduce algae in Lake Erie. There are targeted reductions phosphorus for the Maumee River and Lake Erie. The report was released with no opportunity for public comment. In contrast,the International Joint Commission is reviewing public comments on the draft Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority plan. For the full draft report Click Here
Progress is being made on reintroducing sturgeon to the Maumee. A joint with O.D.N.R., U.S.F.W.S. Metroparks, the zoo, the Blade, retired fish biologist, charter captains and waterkeepers is going throught the process to reintroduce this prehistoric looking fish that can live over 100 ears and does not reproduce until 15-20 years old. The reintroduction is targeted for 2015.
Microcystin was in the water in intakes in western Lake Erie. Toledo and other communities treated the algae to make the water safe for drinking. Toledo needs an additional $1 million over and above what was budgeted to pay for the added treatment. See article. Carroll Township serving about 2000 customers had limited testing and had to shut down September 5 because of microcystin, a toxin created by harmful algae, testing at levels three times the recommendation of the World Health Organization. For several articles click here. There was a connection to Ottawa County water which is now being used. This website is creating a form to report when there is a suspected health impact from contact with the algae.
In 2013 Lake Erie algae started in early July along the southern shores of Ontario and in the center of the Central Basin. By late July the algae was blooming in Maumee Bay and the far western basin and along the Michigan shoreline. Detroit sewage continues to flow to Lake Erie, click here for article. The blooms spread east in August and are now in the area of the islands. The algae on the shores of Maumee Bay State Park have been tested positive for toxins. Also this year, there appears to be visible algae coming out of the Detroit River, especially on the Canadian side. Excessive algae lowers water quality and decreases sport fish populations. Ohio EPA has a good algae web site which includes beach advisories. Click here for ecoli beach advisories. Click here for August algae picture. Ohio Senate Bill 150 is in committee. The bill was significantly weakened. One amendment by Senator Randy Gardner to provide $1.5 million to find alternatives to open lake dumping is helpful to Lake Erie.
The next Toledo area Lake Erie Waterkeeper meeting is Thursday, December 11 at 7pm at the Toledo Yacht Club, 3900 N. Summit. All meetings discuss water quality and habitat and are open to the public.
2013 study by the Carnegie Institute states storm intensity and agricultural practices are the main culprits for the algae problem in Lake Erie. Monitoring in Lake Erie and at tributary outfalls is needed to determine if changing practices to reduce algae are working. In particular, monitoring is needed in the Detroit River which has ‘three streams’. Detroit’s center stream is the water coming from Lake Huron which supplies over 80% of the water to Lake Erie. The ‘western stream’ on the Detroit side and ‘eastern stream’ on the Ontario side flow into Lake Erie with much higher phosphorous concentrations than the Huron ‘stream’. There is little known about these phosphorous sources to Lake Erie. Articles in the New York Times and elsewhere suggest that 2013 will be a bad algae year.
One form of Asian Carp, grassy carp is reproducing in the Sandusky River according to O.D.N.R. and ohers. Alsom information from Notre Dame suggest that Asian Carp are probably establishing in the western basin of Lake Eire. The findings are similar to a study by Purdue University which says that Asian Carp may have more of an opportunity to establish in the Great Lakes than once thought.
The Detroit Wastewater plant processes 1/2 of all the wastewater in the State of Michigan and is the single largest source of phosphorous to Lake Erie, and the single largest wastewater plant in the US located at the southwest tip of the Detroit River where it meets Lake Erie. The Detroit Wastewater plant contributes over 5% of Lake Erie’s total phosphorus load and over 13% of Lake Erie’s dissolved reactive phosphorus.
The State of Ohio Phosphorus Task force is to deliver a report to Governor Kasich on steps to resolving the Lake Erie algae problem in September or October 2013.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement assigns the task of developing recommendations on a wide variety of threats to the Great Lakes to the International Joint Commission which has representation from the US and Canada.
Silver caprt eDNA was found in the Maumee River. Recent studies suggest that the eDNA may or may nit indicate live carp. In July test results from 2011 showed 4 Big Head Carp eDNA samples in Sandusky Bay and 2 Silver Carp eDNA samples in Maumee Bay – Michigan portion. ODNR’s August 2012 results show 20 positive eDNA hits out of 150 samples in Sandusky Bay for silver carp. There is no plan for getting rid of the carp if they establish in Lake Erie. Click here for UTube how to identify Asian Carp.
To learn about how Lake Erie was managed for its comeback, read Lake Erie Water Quality 1970-1982 A Management Assessment Report. Issues addressed include: water quantity & water levels; page 9 discusses circulation and the impacts from the Detroit River; Nutrients, page 61 about the Maumee and Detroit Rivers …’even though the Maumee has more concentrated nutrients; the Detroit is more influential because of its volume’; 80% of the phosphorous discharged to Lake Erie falls out into the sediments. Heavy rains and winds in 2011 stirred up sediments in the lake aiding algae growth. Detroit Wastewater sewage sludge dumped into Lake Erie from 2009 through 2011 fueled algae.