Monday, October 7, 2013

Spread of Lake Erie’s toxic algae poses challenge to governments

Agencies issue call for decisive action in order to stem Lake Erie’s ‘green tide’

Lake Erie was always greener on the other side – until this year. The lake’s infamous toxic blue-green algae first made what’s become an annual summertime appearance along the southern Ontario shoreline in July this year.

It arrived on the lake a month earlier in a new spot, closing beaches in the Chatham-Kent area during some of the summer’s hottest days – and it raised a whole new set of alarm bells. A month later, when a small pocket of blue-green algae – actually a neurotoxic form of cyanobacteria – emerged in Presque Isle Bay off Erie, Pa., those alarms resounded even louder.

... “We’re very concerned,” said James Tierney, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s assistant commissioner for water. “We’ve been monitoring what’s going on.”

It is also why the International Joint Commission – an advisory body of United States and Canadian officials charged with remedying water quality concerns along the border – issued a recent report calling for the public to get involved and governments to take decisive, immediate action to stem this green tide from exploding on a lake that’s ripe for conquer.

“If the problem continues, at stake is a multibillion-dollar cost to one of our most precious resources,” said Raj Bejankiwar, an IJC Great Lakes scientist, following a recent IJC open house in Ontario. “How many people rely on drinking water systems on this lake? How many rely on the tourism industry? The beaches?”

The Buffalo News
05 Oct 2013
TJ Pignataro