Lake Erie Foundation talks improving lake water quality

Lake Erie Foundation talks improving lake water quality
(Source: WTOL)

LUCAS COUNTY (WTOL) - We are approaching that time of year when algal blooms thrive in Lake Erie, and experts are figuring out how to tackle all the challenges that go along with improving the water.

The Lake Erie Foundation hosted a conference Friday at W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Wood County.

In 2017, the lake had another record breaking algae year. Five of the last seven years were the largest blooms in lake Erie's history.

"A lot of the focus on Lake Erie right now has to do with nutrient runoff and pollution and the harmful algae blooms that happen each summer," said Laura Johnson, Director of the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University.

Those algal blooms are driven by the amount of nutrients flowing into the water.

"The algae is just like a plant and you give it fertilizer you give it things it wants and it'll grow," said Thomas Bridgeman, an ecology professor at the University of Toledo.

Experts have been able to determine how big the algal blooms will be each year.

"This is sort of the time of year when the rainfall and river flow start to have an effect on what we'll see in August, but it's still early," said Bridgeman.

Researchers work with farmers to adopt best practices for treating soil while keeping the water clean, but for farmers, it is not always easy.

"Every time somebody wants a new practice for us to adopt or some new technology for us to adopt, we have to pay for that ourselves," said Bill Myers, Co-Owner of Myers Farms in Oregon. We can do everything as perfect as we can possibly do and one rain event or one mother nature influx into our system can change everything overnight," said Bridgeman. "We worry when there's the big storm events because you get a lot of flooding and huge amounts of muddy water coming down the river, that's what really drives the condition of the lake."

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