Press Release

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OEC Statement on 2023 Harmful Algal Bloom Forecast in Western Lake Erie Basin

COLUMBUS, OH — The Western Lake Erie Basin is predicted to have a small to moderate harmful algal bloom (HAB) with a severity between 2 and 4.5 out of 10, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2023 Forecast released today. Scientists predict the 2023 bloom will be smaller than last year’s 6.8 bloom due to an unusually low amount of precipitation in May. 

Despite significant investments in wetlands and voluntary conservation practices through the state’s H2Ohio program, Lake Erie and Ohio’s inland lakes need more aggressive action to reduce nutrient pollution to meet the scale of the problem. Ohio needs to spend an additional $170 million to $250 million each year to achieve our region’s 40% phosphorus reduction goal, according to our report co-authored with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, The Cost to Meet Water Quality Goals in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

The annual forecast announcement — hosted by Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio State University — highlights NOAA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Early Season Projection for Western Lake Erie and is based on predicted summer rainfall.

The following quote may be attributed, in whole or in part, to Melanie Houston, Managing Director of Water Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):

“Regardless of severity, any harmful algal bloom threatens the health of Ohioans and their environment because of the algae’s toxicity to humans and wildlife. Every year, beaches close from toxic algae that contaminates Lake Erie and Ohio’s inland lakes, and we are yet to see measurable improvements. Harmful algal blooms restrict recreation and tourism, harming the local economy and Ohioans’ ability to enjoy Lake Erie while threatening the safety of  Toledoans’ drinking water.

Today’s forecast comes on the heels of the Sackett vs. EPA decision that makes Ohio’s wetlands — a natural solution to filter nutrient runoff — even more vulnerable to degradation from development. In order to match the scale of the problem and restore our Great Lake Erie, Ohio needs bolder investments, stronger wetland protections and more aggressive pollution reduction strategies from our state leaders.”