The 2017 Understanding Algal Blooms: State of the Science Conference, held September 14 in Toledo, Ohio, brought together 300 scientists and agency officials from across the state to share information on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and discuss solutions to an ongoing problem for Lake Erie communities.
Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie are caused by an excess of phosphorus and other nutrients in runoff from the watershed, which fuels the growth of these potentially toxic algae. Algal toxins, most prominently microcystins, can affect the liver, nervous system and skin, and has led to illness and death in pets exposed to bloom-contaminated water.
Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson addressed the assembled scientists and resource managers, thanking them for their continued to work to avoid another water shutdown like the city experienced in 2014. Research initiatives such as the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI) connect university scientists with water treatment plant managers and environmental agency officials to help align research projects with the demonstrated needs of communities that draw their drinking water from Lake Erie.
Graduate students from universities across the state presented 27 research posters on a range of algal bloom topics, from detecting the blooms via satellite imagery to the potential presence of microcystin toxin in crops and soil irrigated with lake water during a harmful algal bloom. The poster presentations gave students a chance to share their projects with other researchers as well as members of the public who wanted to learn more about the impacts of harmful algal blooms on their surroundings.
The conference was organized by Ohio Sea Grant, OSU Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, and offered Ohio Environmental Protection Agency professional development contact hours to registered attendees. For more news and events related to harmful algal blooms, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu/news/archives/bytags/habs.