Third largest algae bloom season on record ends, effects seen across the area

Third largest algae bloom season on record ends, effects seen across the area

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - This year's algae bloom was the third biggest on record, behind only 2011 and 2015. That matches what experts forecast before the Harmful Algae Bloom season.

Despite initial efforts, there was little to no limit in runoff in Lake Erie this season, compared to previous years.

One of the contributing factors was the particularly wet spring and summer in the Lake Erie Basin, which concerned experts enough to forecast a significant bloom in July.

At the Stone Lab in Put-In-Bay, NOAA officially predicted a bloom as large as a seven or nine on a scale from zero to 10.

"It started off kinda slow relatively speaking," Chris Winslow of the Ohio Sea Grant said. "But as you saw in late August, September, it was quite a pulse there when we had that top temperature."

The bloom hit its peak during a September heat wave that covered 1,000 square miles of Lake Erie. The bloom extended up the coast of Monroe and into the Maumee River as far as downtown Toledo.

Before the harmful algae bloom season began, the city of Toledo unveiled the Water Quality Dashboard. The city used the dashboard to inform residents on the quality of the drinking water.

Despite the size of the bloom, the dashboard never rose above the 'Watch' level.

The size of the bloom also played a large role in the mayoral race between Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz. The health and future of Lake Erie became a central issue in the race for many voters in Toledo.

By October, the bloom began to die off. On October 23, Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson officially announced the end of the season.

Ohio is now only two bloom seasons away from a 20-percent runoff reduction goal. Despite the goal, there has not been any measurable changes thus far.

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