Heavy rain heightens Lake Erie algae worries

COLUMBUS (AP) — Officials are concerned that the wet Ohio spring will again bring toxic algae problems back to Lake Erie.

Heavy rain this year in northwestern Ohio has nearly doubled the average amount of phosphorus that washes off farm fields each spring and flows down the Maumee River to Lake Erie.

Phosphorous, found in fertilizers, helps blue-green algae grow. The blooms kill fish populations, stink up beaches and put a dent in the lakefront’s $10 billion-a-year sport fishing and tourism industries.

Jeffrey Reutter, director of the Ohio Sea Grant Program, shared the data with state lawmakers in Columbus on Wednesday. He said the heavy rain doesn’t necessarily mean a large toxic algae bloom will spread across the lake like in summer 2011.

“It’s still too soon to make a prediction,” said Reutter, who also leads Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie. “We could still have a good year if the rain is less over the next two months.”

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