TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Ever since the water crisis of 2014, close attention has been paid to the health of the Lake Erie watershed.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its first prediction for the upcoming algal bloom season. There's a slightly greater risk than last year for harmful algae to form, but it is very early.
"It could get all pushed into the central basin if we luck out," said Sandy Bihn who is the Executive Director of the Lake Erie Foundation. "And if we don't get any more rain, we might have a moderate season. But if we get a lot more rain, we're definitely in trouble because as the farmers plant, that's the season to watch."
Bihn said it's because toxins in fertilizer can more easily run off into the watershed, contributing to the harmful algal blooms. She said heavy rain before early July could make a big impact.
She said preventing algae blooms is more than just protecting northwest Ohio from another water crisis, it's about protecting the health of Lake Erie.
In addition to wanting to avoid another toxic water crisis like the area had in 2014, Bihn said it's bout protecting the health of the lake and bay so everyone can get more enjoyment out of it.
"A lot people use the lake for fishing for swimming and for recreation. If the algae's out there, it's not pleasant and it's not good and we can't keep having that year after year," says Bihn.
NOAA's final seasonal forecast comes in July which will provide a better idea of the risk northwest Ohio faces and the challenge to avoid another water crisis.
The initial forecast can be seen here: