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Experts Predict Smaller Toxic Algal Bloom For Lake Erie This Summer

NASA Earth Observatory
Taken in October 2011, the worst algae bloom that Lake Erie has experienced in decades. Record torrential spring rains washed fertilizer into the lake, promoting the growth of microcystin producing cyanobacteria blooms.

The toxic algal bloom forming in the western part of Lake Erie is expected to be smaller than last year's bloom.

University of Michigan researchers are attributing the decrease to a lack of rain in the area, which has kept fertilizers and other material from washing off of farmland and into the lake.

Don Scavia is the director of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute.  He says the only long-term way to shrink the blooms is to change the farming methods around Lake Erie.

"Increased buffer strips between the farmland and the stream. Changes in the way that they apply fertilizer--when they do it, how they do it. No longer putting manure on frozen ground. These sorts of things are going to be critical."

Scavia says if those changes aren't made, the blooms will continue to grow and cause more problems for the surrounding communities.

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— Taylor Pinson is a writer/reporter for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him studio@wemu.org

Taylor Pinson is a former WEMU news reporter and engineer.
Taylor Pinson is a former WEMU news reporter and engineer.
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