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Agricultural conservation practices and the impact on the Great Lakes

September 5, 2023  By MSU Today

For about two decades, annual algae blooms – fed primarily by nutrient runoff from sources like agricultural fields, animal facilities and wastewater treatment plants – have developed in the western portion of Lake Erie.

Algal blooms occur when nutrients (primarily phosphorus in Lake Erie), warm water and adequate light create optimal growing conditions, producing visible colonies in ponds, lakes and other water bodies.

Some types of algal blooms, referred to as harmful algal blooms, or HABs, produce toxins that are harmful to human health and wildlife and threaten the water quality of the lakes. In the Western Basin of Lake Erie, blooms of blue green algae called cyanobacteria can produce toxins that can kill fish, mammals, birds, and can cause human illness.

According to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, harmful algal blooms cause approximately $82 million annually in economic losses in fishing and tourism in the Great Lakes region. | READ MORE


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