The Lake Erie ‘dead zone’ presents challenges for municipalities who draw water from Lake Erie. An NCCOS-funded project team of researchers at the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratoryand the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research is working with public water managers in Ohio to help them continue to provide citizens with high quality drinking water. On May 24 in Cleveland, Ohio, the team met with managers from Cleveland Water and five surrounding communities along the Central Basin of Lake Erie to discuss the development of a new hypoxia forecast model that will act as an early warning system when hypoxic water has the potential to enter intakes of water plants.
Public water systems managers who attended the workshop explained that water treatment operators must respond quickly during a hypoxic event to ensure that water quality standards are met. Hypoxic events can increase levels of manganese and iron and lower pH and water temperature. Manganese can cause discoloration of treated water, while low pH may require adjustment in order to avoid corrosion of water distribution pipes.
Researchers presented information on lake processes that contribute to hypoxia, on development of the Lake Erie Operational Forecasting System, and on preliminary hypoxia modeling results that simulated an upwelling event that brought hypoxic water to several water plant intakes in September 2016. Water plant managers reported that advance notice of a potential upwelling event that could bring hypoxic water to their inlet would be useful in order to alert staff to increase the frequency of manganese testing, improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of treatment practices.
The workshop also facilitated knowledge sharing among participants about how to recognize hypoxic events when they occur and efficiently adjust water treatment processes. Researchers at CIGLR and NOAA GLERL will continue to work with public water systems managers over the course of the five-year project to develop the hypoxia forecast model and ensure that the tool meets their data needs.
For more information, contact Felix.Martinez@noaa.gov.