Every summer, Lake Erie’s algal blooms usually stay in the Western Basin, but as the water warms up and winds blow from west to east, these algal blooms merge with a different type, albeit less toxic, of algae at the lake’s Central Basin.
Once these algal blooms combine, they form into tons of alge around August to September when it eventually sinks to the bottom. The danger is that once at the bottom, it decomposes, consuming oxygen in the process. This depletes the oxygen level beneath, causing harm to other living organisms.
Beyond Marine Life
Aside from the danger it poses in the marine life in Lake Erie Illustrated Map, these algal blooms also turn the water yellow and smelly, making it unsafe for drinking and survival. It poses a real threat to the marine animals who cannot survive in such environment, and even to people, with millions of residents in the northeast relying on the lake as source of potable water.
Mitigating the Problem
Experts have explained that there is no easy and effective way of getting oxygen into the bottom of the lake. For now, they can only monitor and track the dead zone and its development through buoys and satellite imagery. Water Quality Manager of the Cleveland Water Department Scott Moegling is in charge of doing so.
Using a three-buoy monitoring system in the lake, they monitor its conditions most especially during the warmer climates. The main equipment is a deep-water buoy placed 15 miles away from the shore. They receive data from the buoys, giving them information on the wind speed and direction, as well as water temperature and oxygen levels. The data that they gather is then relayed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which have been working on a project to create a forecast system. They have been working on it for five years.
The dead zones have been a problem in the lake for hundreds of years now, with phosphates and raw sewage dumped in the area before the Clean Water Act in 1972 was enacted. These areas disappeared for a short period of time, but have come back because of the algal blooms.