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Aerial view of the bloom on the Maumee River, going through Toledo. Credit: NOAA

NCCOS Helps Ohio Respond to Unusual Harmful Algal Bloom

Published on: 10/12/2017

Sites samples along the Maumee River by BGSU, University of Toledo and Defiance College. Credit: NOAA

Concerns regarding a large cyanobacteria harmful algal bloom (HAB) of Microcystis spp. and Planktothrix spp., which developed on the Maumee River adjacent to Toledo, Ohio in mid-September, led NCCOS to provide event response funds for initial testing and monitoring of the HAB for toxins.

A team led by Bowling Green State University, including University of Toledo, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Ohio EPA, and Defiance College will analyze water samples to measure the concentrations of a broad suite of CyanoHAB toxins and the genetic potential for toxin production.  Samples were collected from the entire bloom, which stretches along the river for approximately 10 miles to its mouth at Lake Erie (see map). This will provide Ohio water resource managers with important information necessary for protecting human and animal health.

This bloom is unusual for a number of reasons. It is late in the year for a HAB to develop, particularly given recent lack of rainfall in the area that ordinarily may contribute to a bloom. Additionally, this type of bloom does not frequently occur on the Maumee River, although high temperatures, lack of flow and particular wind patterns may be contributing to its development and persistence. The response will inform recreational usage and protect source waters that support multiple Ohio public water systems and the food processing industry. The cities of Napoleon, Bowling Green, and Defiance, as well as the the Campbell Soup Napoleon Manufacturing Facility, have requested information about bloom toxicity.

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