Lake Erie algal blooms are costing tax payers millions, could stretch into billions

New study shows impacts to treatment plants, recreation and property values.
Updated: Aug. 14, 2019 at 1:49 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -A study released today, commission by the City of Toledo, Lucas County and the City of Oregon looked at how much harmful algal blooms, or microcystis cyanobacteria, are costing taxpayers and it’s in the millions.

Looking at the continued impact the algae could have, the “Lake Erie Ecosystem Services Assessment: Economic Benefits from Phosphorus Reductions” report showed it could stretch into the billion.

“Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie impose significant burdens on those residing in and visiting the region,” according to the report by Key Log Economics. “Blooms themselves are generally concentrated in the western basin but have negative impacts to Lake Erie’s central basin when blooms create dead zones.”

The report surveyed 10 water treatment plants in the the U.S. including Toledo, Sandusky and Cleveland and found that combined they have spent $81.2 million in capital expenditures related to dealing with the algae.

At the Toledo plant alone they spend $30,000 to $40,000 a day on carbon to combat the algae from getting into the drinking water.

The report looked at four key areas that are losing money, or will lose money if something isn’t done about the amount of phosphorus leaching from farm fields, into Lake Erie, which acts like a fertilizer to the algae.

  • Water treatment plants- $3 million in added annual costs. ($85 million spent already in capital expenditures)
  • Property owners-homes within 20 meters of the lake could see property value decline of $686 million.
  • Recreational anglers-Surveyed anglers willing to spend $117-$437 million if phosphorus reduced by 40%
  • Beach/recreation- 20% reduction of water quality days gains $25-$28 million in spending. (30% reduction $38-$43 million)

A Michigan company called Great Lake Outreach Media, is working on a documentary for 2020 titled, “The Erie Situation” and has posted to social media video and images of algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Here's a taste of what we're working on.

Posted by Great Lakes Outreach Media on Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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