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University of Toledo researchers first in US to use German system for monitoring algal blooms

The University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center has been working with a German company to monitor algal blooms at the Toledo Water Treatment Plant to create safer water.

OREGON, Ohio — The University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center works to improve the health of Lake Erie and associated waterways. Now, they are using the first instrument in the country of its kind to monitor algal blooms in public water.

The center's director, Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, and his team have worked with German company bbe Moldaenke GmbH since 2017 to develop a process for monitoring algal blooms which is a part of a $1.5 million research grant.

"(bbe Moldaenke are) leaders in the world to produce these kinds of instruments," Bridgeman said. "They came to the University of Toledo, to the Lake Erie Center, and we worked with them to develop this capability."

They tested the instruments, which have the capability of being able to tell when algal cells will break open and deliver harmful toxins, at the Toledo Water Treatment Plant over the summer.

The algal blooms in the water can be tested in about 15 minutes, which can help the water plants treat it with carbon, ozone and other things to make it safer and more accessible.

Bridgeman said this is just the beginning.

"Our drinking water sources are much more safer because of the technology in place now, and this latest sensor is one more advancement in protecting our water supply," he said.

Bridgeman said they soon hope to put the systems out on self-driven boats to monitor lakes. They also have proposals to work with watersheds that produce algal blooms, like the Maumee River.

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