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Watershed Connections to Lake Erie Water Quality: the Algal Loading Hypothesis

Intensive work to reduce the phosphorus load from its watershed   improved Lake Erie's water quality through 1995, but water quality   has since declined, resulting in recurring harmful algal blooms   throughout the lake and summer hypolimnetic hypoxia in the central   basin. We hypothesized that input of live, biological material   (especially algae) from large tributaries directly contributed to   the offshore processes causing algal blooms and hypoxia. To test this  hypothesis, we proposed three objectives:   1) to determine the amounts and types of algal loading from a large   Lake Erie watershed;   2) to determine the growth and "bloom formation capacity" of  various algal communities; and   3) to identify management strategies to remediate tributary algal  loading effects.     Working in the Sandusky River, Bay, and subbasin, we found extremely   high phytoplankton biomasses in the river and bay, with   phytoplankton growth only limited by light availability because   nutrient concentrations were extremely high. These nutrient-replete  phytoplankton were "primed" for growth once transported offshore,   thereby supporting our hypothesis. Thus the watershed's biological   loads are important components of offshore Lake Erie beneficial use   impairments, namely, eutrophication due to excessive nutrient   loading, degradation of biological communities and aesthetics by   harmful algal blooms, and loss of fish or other wildlife habitat due   to hypoxia.    (algal bloom); (algal blooms); (hypoxia); (algae); (eutrophication);   (Lake Erie); (tributary); (tributaries)

Status
In progress
Type
Project
Start Date
End Date
Scope of Study
Field Investigation
Scale of Phenomena
Ecosystem
Impact of Pollutants
Nutrients, Including Phosphorus
Lake Basin Connecting Channels
Lake Erie
State Province
Ohio
Region Being Monitored
Near and OpenShore Waters
Resource Being Monitored
Habitat
Human Health
Program Drivers
Great Lakes Protection Fund
Beneficial Use Impairment Assessments
Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae
Annex Numbers
Control of Phosphorus
Remedial Action Plans and Lakewide Management Plans
Research & Development
Annex 17
Load reduction models for GL System pollutants
General
Monitoring
Annex
  • Annex Numbers
    Annex Numbers
    Control of Phosphorus
    Remedial Action Plans and Lakewide Management Plans
    Research & Development
  • Annex 17
    Annex 17
    Load reduction models for GL System pollutants

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