Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently made a significant prediction about this year’s western Lake Erie harmful algal bloom. According to them, in 2015, the region will witness one of the most severe algal bloom seasons it has experienced in recent times. According to predictions made by these experts, the season might even turn out to be the second most severe ever behind the record-breaking bloom of 2011.
The seasonal forecast of 2015 has been made based on models that decode nutrient loading during the spring time into possible algal blooms in Lake Erie’s Western Basin. The region had a relatively dry April and May, which was followed by heavy rainfall in the month of June.
The heavy rains resulted in record release and nutrient loading from Maumee River, which runs through northeastern Indiana and Toledo. These events, according to the researchers, will lead to a remarkably severe bloom this year.
There are a number of reasons for which these cyanobacterial blooms are called harmful. One of the most prominent ones among them is the increase in the amount local governments and cities need to spend for treating drinking water. In addition, algal blooms also make life difficult for swimmers in high-concentration zones. Boaters also face a lot of difficulty due to these blooms.
The intensity of the above mentioned effects will vary from one region to another. The more severe will be the blooms the worse will be their effects. According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the harmful algal bloom will be at its peak in September.
Last year’s bloom also caused problems for people in the adjacent regions of Lake Erie. In August, 2014 a cyanobacterial bloom in western Lake Erie blocked supply of drinking water to over 400,000 residents in the Toledo-area.
Don Scavia, a member of the research team making the predictions and an aquatic ecologist at the University of Michigan, said that although this year’s bloom will most likely be bigger than the one that blocked water supply in the Toledo area in 2014, it must be kept in mind that there’s no link between the size of bloom and risk it imposes on public health.
According to Scavia, how bad will be a bloom’s effect on public health depends largely on other factors such as water temperature and wind directions.