Too Close to Home –

Algae Crisis in Lake Erie Similar to Lake Okeechobee, South Florida

Overhead Pic of Lake Erie
Overhead View July 2015

We all know nutrients from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, and farms are hazardous to our waterways.  But recent visible algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee garnered a nationwide outcry.  Unfortunately here at home, Lake Erie,  is strikingly similar.

Since 1995, Lake Erie has been known for containing a bacteria called microcystis, which is an extremely toxic organism.  According to The Blade, microcystis nourish off of sunlight, freshwater, nutrients from agricultural runoff, and stagnant air.  Another case has emerged this summer at Lake Okeechobee in South Florida.  Besides all the evidence being highly identical to the Lake Erie case, Florida also reached an all-time rainfall amount this previous winter.  Could this be one of the central causes for this bacteria to cultivate?

Chlorophyll Map of Lake Erie
Chlorophyll Map of Lake Erie

Climatologist consider this to be an El Nino effect.  This past winter was the warmest in years causing South Florida to receive up to 12 inches of rain, just in January.  The amount of rain that South Florida usually accumulates is about less than an inch of rain during the month of January.  Due to the fact that Lake Okeechobee is a man-made Lake that is treated as a reservoir, and a place to store hurricane-induced flooding, water was overflowing from all of the rain they received.  Since the Lake was holding more water than it could, water was released into local canals.   This might sound like a great idea, but this contaminated water is being carried into additional bodies of water causing more of a tragedy.

They say this year is the biggest boom in history.  Want to learn more?  To read more about the algae crisis, click here.

Also for reference: EPA’s Fact Sheet on Impacts of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms

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