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Health, Science and Environment

Western Lake Erie turns green from algae bloom

Elizabeth Miller/Ideastream
Lake Erie near Oregon, Ohio

Western Lake Erie’s algae bloom is in full swing – and the water is a sickly green.  

A t Maumee Bay State Park near Toledo, Ohio, the lake looks like it’s covered in paint. Thick lines of scum swirl around as the sun beats down.

Charter boat Capt. Don McGee takes a group of students and reporters to the middle of the lake to describe what’s floating around.  He’s fished Lake Erie for over 30 years, and says it isn’t going to get healthy overnight – but more needs to be done.

"We can study the lake and study the lake and study lake, all the studies do is study," said McGee.  "We know a lot of the things that are happening, what’s happening, why it’s happening. We need to figure out how to get that accomplished quicker."

The boat trip was part of a Lake Erie tour, a closer look at the algae bloom problem and some of the people tackling it.  They include a farmer who has made changes to limit nutrients like phosphorus from running into streams that lead to the lake. Others represented organizations that use wetlands to filter nutrients out of water before they end up in the lake.

Harmful algae blooms plague western Lake Erie summer after summer.  The blooms shut down beaches and can threaten drinking water.