Lake Erie algae bloom intensifying
A new report this week shows the algae bloom in Lake Erie is intensifying.
It's more than just unsightly. It's a big threat to the multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
Captain Rick Unger is one of hundreds of charter boat operators on Lake Erie.
"We've been seeing a lot of blooms," says Unger, the owner of Chief's Charters. "They're out there."
A new report this week warns the algae bloom has intensified. There may be patches of green scum from the Bass Islands west to Maumee Bay.
Meanwhile, the state warning remains in effect at Maumee Bay State Park where it looks like green paint is washing ashore.
The health advisory at the beach means the level of bad bacteria in the water has reached unsafe levels there and could make you sick.
"It's a threat to every business in Northwest Ohio," says Unger.
"The algal bloom in Maumee Bay, particularly, is very large, very intense right now," says Dr. Thomas Bridgeman who works at the University of Toledo and studies these types of blue-green algae blooms in the Great Lakes.
Bridgeman says this year's bloom isn't as large as the massive blob that stretched all the way to Cleveland in 2011, but it's larger than last year.
"If 2011 becomes the new normal, Lake Erie would be in serious, serious trouble," says Bridgeman. "It's already in trouble. But if 2011 became the new normal then I would fear for the potential collapse of our fisheries and recreational industries along Lake Erie."
Tourism in Ohio is an $11 billion industry. $1.2 billion of that is from fishing.
"This is a problem we can fix," says Unger.
Unger is also the President of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association which has been working with lawmakers for years to fight the fertilizer run-off into the water.
"All of them understand the resource is too valuable to lose and they're all working hard for a solution," says Unger.