BOWLING GREEN — A national research effort aimed at protecting freshwater lakes from toxic algal blooms will be led by a new center at Bowling Green State University.
The Lake Erie Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health will study how environmental factors promote or constrain blooms, what factors influence toxin production, and how other microbes influence bloom growth and toxicity. BGSU announced Monday it received a $5.2 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Science Foundation to establish the center.
Algal blooms plague parts of the Great Lakes and impact freshwater sources around the world. An outbreak in western Lake Erie in 2014 contaminated tap water for two days for more than 400,000 people around Toledo.
Nitrogen and phosphorus, most of it from the Maumee River watershed, create the the mat of toxic blue-green algae, but scientists are still studying what exactly makes it spread. And environmentalists are trying to cut down on phosphorus flowing into the lake.
Nine other universities and research institutions will be part of the center’s collaborative effort, headed by BGSU professor George Bullerjahn. They are:
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• Ohio Sea Grant
• Ohio State University
• SUNY – College of Environmental Science and Forestry
• University of Michigan
• University of North Carolina
• University of Tennessee
• University of Toledo
• Michigan State University
The announcement came just days after Ohio Gov. John Kasich fired David T. Daniels, who has been the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture since 2012. Kasich made the announcement in a press release Friday but did not give the reason for the firing, although it is believed to be because of Daniel’s resistance to the governor’s anti-algal bloom policies.
Tim Derickson, a former Republican state representative from Butler County who served as Daniels’ assistant director, has been sworn in as interim director.
The Guardians of Grand Lake St. Marys group applauded the removal of Daniels.
“Countless government ‘studies,’ bogus projects and misinformation campaigns have attempted to give the public the impression that state officials are working hard to clean-up Ohio’s waterways. As those attempts to sugar coat the truth are rolled out, the state has been slow to act on Freedom of Information Act requests for manure management plans that would actually shed light on any steps being taken to begin to address the problem,” said Kate Anderson, president of the group.