Time for acting against toxic algae

I don’t get it. I guess I need someone to explain it to me — in language I can understand. How can our government and many of its agencies spend so much money and so many man hours studying toxic algae and, yet, there has been zero progress?

There are thousands of pages of algae-related materials on the Internet. I’ve been though many of them. But there are no solutions.

There have been outbreaks of the toxic algae blooms all over the country. We, of course, know about Lake Erie, including the ban on drinking tap water in Toledo because the algae coming through the water intake for the Toledo system in Lake Erie. Algae continues to be a big problem on that lake.

In our backyard, there are warning signs not to touch the water posted at St. Marys, Kiser and Buckeye Lakes and other warning signs across the Lake Erie coast. And as we head into the dog days, it’ll only get worse.

There have been many more outbreaks, including one that covered more than 600 miles of the Ohio River in 2015. I think the most surprising to me is the one now plaguing a large portion of southern Florida. The algae originated in Lake Okeechobee and was then part of a huge discharge into the St. Lucie River. From there it quickly spread to the Atlantic Ocean at Stuart. And now it’s covering once-popular Miami area beaches. Many have closed. And a “state of emergency” exists in two counties.

One account I read about the Stuart area said the smell was so bad that people in waterfront areas, including canals and channels, had to leave their homes because of the smell and fumes.

It got that bad at Ohio’s Grand Lake St. Marys in 2010.

The discharge from Lake Okeechobee was performed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect several towns against flooding. It sent hundreds of billions of gallons of algae-tainted water into the river and its estuary.

How do you think that plays with people’s health, not to mention the economy?

The thing is, government, scientists and everyone from Tinkerbell to Santa Claus need to start solving the problem. That doesn’t mean more research or focus groups. It means rolling up sleeves and solving it. Yeah, I’ll say it: If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we wipe out toxic algae blooms?

Want some ideas? Start pumping clean fresh water (from wells, if available) into waterways that feed distressed lakes; prohibit the use of phosphorus fertilizers in watersheds; prohibit the spreading of manure on farm fields without complete filter strips and then impose strict limits of how much can be used; modernize sewer systems and try to eliminate septic tanks in watersheds; put in wetlands to filter water flowing into lakes.

The treatment trains at St. Marys show promise, but more are needed.

None of these are so-called quick fixes, but if you don’t start now, there will be no improvement in days and years to come.

I see not only economic problems caused by algae, I think the people of this country – and perhaps the world – should be concerned about the future quality of drinking water. It’s one thing for us to disrupt our recreational habits, but something else to wonder where to find potable water.

New record: There’s a new state record bowfin in the bow fishing division. The new record, 9.20 pounds, was arrowed by Tim Makowski of Massillon, at Mogadore Reservoir on July 2.

That beats the old record bowfin of 8.79 pounds, taken by John Ehrman on April 30, 1989 at Lake Erie. For more information about Ohio fish records, visit outdoorwritersofohio.org.

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