Monitoring algae blooms in Lake Erie

Published: Aug. 22, 2016 at 8:43 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2016 at 8:57 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A couple of years back, Toledo residents couldn't drink the water because of a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie.

It seemed to catch everybody by surprise.

So just how are everyday folks helping to keep an eye on the algae growing in Lake Erie?

Cleveland is next to only a handful of fresh water lakes in the world.  Fresh, these days, is relative because of the algae that springs up when the water heats up.

"When the phosphates and nitrates and other nutrients and go into the lake it just grows wildly," Dr. Rafat Ansari, a scientist at NASA said.

Dr. Ansari, during his off time, is among a group of private pilots that fly their planes looking for algae in Lake Erie, the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.

"We are flying over Lake Erie because we fly lower than satellites, lower than the clouds.  So, we can monitor this.  The special resolution
is much better," Dr. Ansari added.

Cameras are mounted on each wing to capture pictures and video of the Algae. With the warm water resulting from all the hot weather the algae blooms are booming near Cedar Point.

"The algae bloom change on an on an hourly basis, as wind chances, temperatures chance," said Terry Schubert.

Terry Schubert, a retired teacher, helps out. He flies a plane he built himself to help monitor the algae.

"Academics, political groups that are involved in determining how laws should  be written, all of those kinds of things need truthful information. They can't afford to be skewing their decisions," Schubert said.

Terry Schubert and Dr. Ansari and about a hundred other private pilots across the country are helping, and you can too.

The average person can reduce to amount of fertilizer you put on your lawn. Cutting the amount used in half can help a lot.

Overall our water quality in Lake Erie is pretty good but the threat of an algae problem is increasing the more we dump Lake Erie.

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