Monday, Jun 18, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Starving algae

Western Lake Erie is too big to cor­rect its nox­ious al­gae prob­lem with large doses of alu­mi­num sul­fate, or alum, alone. Still, alum treat­ments ap­pear to be hav­ing at least a lim­ited pos­i­tive ef­fect on Grand Lake St. Marys.

At 12,500 acres, Grand Lake St. Marys is the larg­est open body of wa­ter in Ohio. Like Lake Erie, its rec­re­ational ac­tiv­i­ties are af­flicted by al­gae.

The state of Ohio has spent $8.5 mil­lion to ap­ply alum to 4,900 acres of Grand Lake St. Marys over the past two sum­mers. The com­pound is sup­posed to keep al­gae from feed­ing on its main food source, phos­pho­rus.

This year’s drought cut off the farm run­off that feeds Lake Erie al­gae. But al­gae in Grand Lake St. Marys rely more heav­ily on phos­pho­rus em­bed­ded in lake sed­i­ment, so this year’s dry con­di­tions did not do as much to curb al­gae there.

Pre­lim­i­nary alum re­sults for Grand Lake St. Marys look good, ac­cord­ing to a re­searcher. But the suc­cess needs to be quan­ti­fied for state of­fi­cials to de­cide whether to ap­ply more.

No mat­ter what re­sults emerge, Ohio may need to take more than a two-and-out ap­proach us­ing alum to gen­er­ate more data, es­pe­cially in non-drought years. More-pro­ac­tive ef­forts are needed to keep run­off and un­treated house­hold waste out of Ohio wa­ter­ways.

The most cost-ef­fec­tive way to man­age nat­u­ral re­sources is to pre­vent pol­lu­tion. Alum treat­ments are, at best, short-term re­sponses to al­gae.

Ohio needs to en­hance wet­lands state­wide and, when nec­es­sary, dredge the most pol­luted sed­i­ment from Grand Lake St. Marys. Alum re­search can help un­lock al­gae mys­ter­ies. But it is no pan­a­cea for what ails Ohio’s lakes.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…