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Toxic Algae in Lake Erie

Is there a solution to the Lake Erie toxic algae problem?

Summer algae blooms in Lake Erie have become an unfortunate yet fairly common occurrence north of Cleveland, Ohio. However, help in reducing these harmful blooms of the green slime may be on the way.

Ohio lawmakers are considering a new law that would require farmers to only apply synthetic and chemical fertilizers in the presence of a state-certified expert or with the assistance of such an expert, Outdoor News reported. The main cause of the algae blooms is the run-off of phosphorus-heavy fertilizers that eventually reach Lake Erie and feed the algae.

The algae is harmful to the lake's ecosystem because it leaves behind toxins that can kill animals and taint the water which many Ohioans depend upon for their drinking water. The ugly, green, slimy blooms that can cover large portions of Lake Erie also affect tourism in the area, as well as the lake's outstanding walleye fishing.

Removed from the bill was a proposal that would also restrict the spreading of manure on agricultural fields that are covered in snow or ice during the winter months. This leads to a similar type of fertilizer run-off. Manure and fertilizer are both rich in phosphorus and when manure is spread on top of snow or ice, it can get into streams during the spring thaw.

If this bill passes, the Ohio Department of Agriculture would oversee the process and decide upon the requirements to become certified in fertilizer distribution along with any fees that will go along with the training.

RELATED: Ohio Wildlife Agency Aims to Revitalize Lake Erie Sturgeon

This regulation on the use of fertilizer would apply to farmers who tend to at least 50 noncontiguous acres of land. If passed, this bill would take effect in 2017 and would go a long way towards decreasing the frequency and severity of these damaging algae blooms in Lake Erie.

Do you think that this bill should pass in order to protect Lake Erie's ecosystem? Sound off in the comments section below.


Photo via Peter Essick/National Geographic

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Toxic Algae in Lake Erie