By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com
Northwest Ohio communities, including Toledo and Lucas County, who are dependent on drinking water from Lake Erie are facing a water fiasco today as a harmful algal bloom is producing toxins in their water which could be harmful to humans and animals.
The Associated Press reports that Ohio Governor John Kasich has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard.
“The reemergence of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie is an ecological and economic setback for communities along the coast,” said U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur about a NOAA’s report released on July 10.
In other words, they saw it coming.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that western Lake Erie would have a significant bloom of cynanobacteria during the 2014 bloom season in late summer.
Humans might be affected with symptoms including skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage, says the The World Health Organization (WHO)
The Toledo News Now reports a harmful algal bloom or HAB occurs when excess nitrogen and phosphorus are present in lakes and streams. These toxins could be a result of over-fertilized fields and lawns or malfunctioning septic systems from livestock pens.
A number of environmental factors have to come into play for algal bloom to be triggered. For example, eutrophication, or excessive plant and algal growth, in a waterway could happen to lakes as sediments accumulate over many years. But humans have accelerated the process with the use of additional nutrients in America’s bodies of water.
The Knowledge Project website, nature.com, states that eutrophication might also be caused from “aquacultural scientists and pond managers often intentionally ‘urtophy’ water bodies by adding fertilizers to enhance primary productivity” for recreational fishes.
Another bloom trigger is thermal stratification. The Center for Earth and Environmental Science at Indiana-Purdue University, Indianapolis, defines this phenomenon as when the top layer of the water becomes warmer while the bottom layer remains cooler. When the bottom water becomes depleted of oxygen, the nutrients from the sediments in the water, or if the nutrients are added to the water by humans, become fuel for algae to grow on the top of the water.
According to NOAA harmful algal blooms were common in northwestern Lake Erie between the 1960s and 1980s but lapsed until the 2000s.