Algal blooms are hurting Michigan, here’s how

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Courtesy: The Great Lakes Business Network, Aerial Associates Photography, Inc. by Zachary Haslick

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) —- Algal blooms are a green, slimy substance that form in lakewater over time due to nutrient run-off. The largest contributors to algal run-off formation are run-off from fertilizer applications and waste from agri-business.

Algal blooms are are harmful to multiple industries because oftentimes, expenses from the businesses that produce run-off are often passed over to businesses that are harmed by it.

The impact of algal blooms is not exclusive to Michigan, it also impacts Ohio and Ontario, areas that also border Lake Erie.

According to a report from the Great Lakes Business Network, the wildlife recreation industry in the Lake Erie area of Michigan creates 55,000 jobs and contributes $2.4 billion to the regional economy. Algal blooms put both the jobs and economic contribution at risk.

Mike Briskey, the owner and operator of Luna Pier Harbour Club, expressed his thoughts on the “potentially toxic” algal bloom,

“Our business is heavily dependent on the conditions of the lake and its fish to support the needs of our customers. As perch fishing begins to diminish in quality and quantity, it directly impacts our Marina through reduced occupancy and fewer sales. Many customers of the marina use the nearby beach, but when a harmful algal bloom occurs and the winds are onshore, the beach and shallow waters become unusable and potentially toxic.”

Businesses in the three areas are working to implement realistic solutions to reduce algal blooms in Lake Erie. Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario have all made commitments to reduce algal blooms in the western basin of Lake Erie by 40% in 2025.

The Great Lakes Business Network says that the state of Michigan can do the following to reduce potential for algal bloom development:

  • Collaborate with Ohio in the development of the Maumee Watershed Nutrient Total Maximum Daily Load project for the Michigan portion of the Maumee River Basin to quantify local nutrient sources and establish nutrient reduction plans that meet established targets.  
  • Support strengthening of the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assessment Program (MAEAP) with improvements that link practices on the field to water quality outcomes. 
  • Ensure that the state is doing all it can to stop animal waste from polluting Michigan waters including banning all manure application on frozen, snow covered or saturated ground

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