Ohio State University’s algae researchers have launched yet another initiative to help the state track and study the dangerous algae threatening bodies of water around Ohio.
The university’s scientists have long led efforts to study the algae that blankets portions of Lake Erie every summer. Now they are moving on to address the threat of algae that has begun appearing on other waterways around the state, usually mysteriously and without much warning.
Algae blooms appeared along the Maumee River in downtown Toledo in the summer of 2017 and near Defiance in 2016.
Researchers want to be able to predict when harmful algae blooms will show up on reservoirs and rivers, and get a better grasp on data that determine which bodies of water are at the greatest risk.
If Ohio State’s project is successful, the scientists will be able to offer warning and even strategies for preventing algae blooms before they appear.
This is just the latest in a long list of innovative projects from Ohio State and other schools, all trying to do their part to address the threat that pollution-fed algae poses to public health and the economy.
● Ohio State researchers have been able to quantify how algae damages Ohio’s $1.7 billion sport fishing industry: Fishing license sales dip by 10 percent every time a moderate bloom appears.
● The same OSU researchers calculated that algae blooms on two other Ohio lakes — Buckeye Lake and Grand Lake St. Marys — cost homeowners there $152 million in lost property value over six years.
● The University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, is working in a partnership with other schools to develop a method of diagnosing algae toxin exposure in humans, something doctors do not yet have.
● Bowling Green State University professors launched a project to monitor Sandusky Bay for dangerous algae, focusing on keeping the source of drinking water safe from microcystin.
These projects are providing critical information and help for everyone from local authorities, business owners, farmers, and environmental advocates concerned about the fight to rid Lake Erie and other Ohio waterways from toxic algae.
So where is Gov. John Kasich and his Ohio Environmental Protection Agency? While university scientists urgently push ahead with research to help end the algae threat, the Kasich administration stubbornly insists that voluntary measures and nonbinding pollution-reduction goals will be enough to fix the problem.
Ohio is not even close to being on pace to reach its goal of a 40-percent reduction of algae-fueling phosphorous by 2025. Yet Mr. Kasich and his administration refuse to declare Lake Erie impaired under the terms of the Clean Water Act, which would trigger the federal intervention that is clearly necessary to address the issue.
Each year the algae problem grows a little scarier and threatens Ohioans a little more. And each year, university researchers respond with new projects to quantify the problem and offer solutions. If only the leaders with the authority to really put teeth into clean-up efforts treated the algae problem with the same urgency.
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