The 2017 Bloom was the Third Largest Algal Bloom on Record in Lake Erie

Kristy Meyer, November 17, 2017

Last week, we got some troubling news. It turns out the 2017 Lake Erie algal bloom was tied for the third largest on record. The thick-green scum was pervasive throughout northwest Ohio, making it’s unsightly appearance on the Maumee River, alarming Toledo residents. Toledo’s beautiful riverfront and downtown businesses were taken aback at the poor quality of the Maumee River.

While this year’s bloom did not produce toxic algae that resulted in the loss of drinking water, Toledo was forced to adjust the city’s water safety dashboard to “watch” status twice. It’s clear that Lake Erie needs our help.

Ohio has taken some critical, initial steps to address agricultural and urban sources of phosphorus to Lake Erie, but they are not enough to stem the tide of toxic algae. We must help the people who take care of our land, take care of our water by marrying best management practices with the on-the-ground realities of Ohio’s agricultural industries.  

There is no silver bullet to address toxic algae. Lasting solutions will take time and a many-pronged attack, including:

  • Encouraging greater adoption of best management practices on more farm fields, like cover crops to prevent soil erosion, keeping the manure and fertilizer on the agricultural fields and not washing into our waterways;
  • Requiring reasonable, common sense regulations requiring agricultural producers to only use the amount of fertilizer and manure needed in the soil for optimal crop growth and working with with certified professionals to develop plans tailor-made for their fields.
  • Encouraging the utilization of green infrastructure, rain gardens and bioswales, to help elevate stormwater runoff and lessen the burden on our wastewater treatment plants.
  • Improving water quality monitoring in order to determine if Ohio is making progress in reducing phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie.

We can no longer just afford to treat the symptoms, and we must cure the disease and get to the source of this algae production to stop it before it reaches our waterways. Every day we wait, the problem gets more complex and severe with the solutions more costly.

Please call the Governor’s office at (614) 466-3555 and demand action today.