Researchers search for clues to toxic algae blooms

Read the full story from Minnesota Public Radio.

From Washington Lake in southwest Minnesota, to Lake Minnetonka, to Helen Lake in northern Minnesota, toxic blooms of algae are again surfacing on the state’s lakes.

They’re suspected culprits in one case of human illness and two dog deaths so far this summer.

When lake temperatures warm, blue-green algae thrives, often forming in thick, pea-soup colored blooms that spread out across the surface of lakes.

The algae has been present in Minnesota since at least the turn of the 19th century. But it’s only recently exploded on the public’s radar. It’s believed to have killed 20 dogs in Minnesota since 2004, including this August at Lake Minnetonka and at Lake Geneva, near Alexandria, Minn.

Algal blooms cost Ohio homeowners $152 million over six years

Read the full story from Ohio State University.

In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University estimate algal blooms at two Ohio lakes cost Ohio homeowners $152 million in lost property value over six years.

Meanwhile, a related study suggests that algae is driving anglers away from Lake Erie, causing fishing license sales to drop at least 10 percent every time a bloom reaches a moderate level of health risk. Based on those numbers, a computer model projects that a severe, summer-long bloom would cause up to $5.6 million in lost fishing revenue and associated expenditures by anglers.

Those are the main findings from the first two studies ever to put a precise dollar value on algae impact, both on Lake Erie and two recreational lakes in Ohio. One study appears in the journal Ecological Economics, and the other in the Journal of Environmental Management.

Researchers creating warning system for toxic algae in lakes

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Satellites in space and a robot under Lake Erie’s surface are part of a network of scientific tools trying to keep algae toxins out of drinking water supplies in the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

The good, the bad and the algae

Read the full story in Science Daily.

A new study is testing whether one of California’s largest and most polluted lakes can transform into one of its most productive and profitable. Southern California’s 350-square-mile Salton Sea has well-documented problems related to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural runoff. The research team intends to harness algae’s penchant for prolific growth to clean up these pollutants and stop harmful algae blooms while creating a renewable, domestic source of fuel.

Farm ‘bioreactor’ will filter nitrate from water

Read the full story in the Quad City Times. See also: Wood chips could help cleanse farm field run-off (Cornell University, 2013).

The state of Iowa has adopted a voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy, inspiring more strategies for filtering farm water before it reaches streams. One such strategy is the installation of “bioreactors” at the edge of fields.

Webinar: EPA’s Water Finance Clearinghouse

August 14, 2017 — 1-2 pm CDT
August 18, 2017 — 1-2 pm CDT
August 24, 2017 — 1-2 pm CDT
August 31, 2017 — 1-2 pm CDT
Register for any of these identical sessions at https://register.gotowebinar.com/rt/4533646364837520386

Learn how to navigate EPA’s Water Finance Clearinghouse, an easily navigable web-based portal, to help communities locate information and resources that will assist then in making informed decisions for their drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure needs.

The Water Finance Clearinghouse features two searchable data sets: one focused on available Federal, State, and local Funding Sources for water infrastructure and the second will contain Resources, such as reports, tools, webinars etc. on financing mechanisms and approaches.

The Water Finance Clearinghouse is managed by EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center – an information and technical assistance center, helping federal. State, and community stakeholders understand their financing options, improve the effectiveness of federal funding, and support local-decision making for resilient water investments

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is larger than ever. Here’s what to do about it.

Read the full story in the Washington Post. See also Algae, Dead Zones, Climate Change and the Soil Health Movement at Progressive Farmer.

Scientists just measured the largest dead zone ever recorded for the Gulf of Mexico, a whopping 8,776 square miles, massive enough to cover all of New Jersey. And only dramatic shifts in farming practices are likely to prevent even bigger problems in the future.