In August 2014, residents of Toledo lost the use of tap water for two days because of a toxic algal bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie, which is their water source. In subsequent summers, the lake’s algal blooms have been smaller, but they remain a persistent phenomenon. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a significant cyanobacteria algal bloom in western Lake Erie this summer.

Numerous definitions of “harmful algal blooms” exist, but they generally can be understood as excessive growths of various species of phytoplankton, protists, cyanobacteria, or macro and benthic algae that negatively impact water quality, aquatic ecosystem stability, or animal and human health. The blooms may be toxic or nontoxic. Even nontoxic blooms can have repercussions for drinking water treatment, recreational use of the waterbody, and the overall economy.

Continue Reading Cooperative Federalism At Work: States Differ on Lake Erie Algal Blooms

A pteropod is not a winged dinosaur. It is a category of marine life that includes sea snails and sea slugs, both of which serve as forage for other marine species. According to the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), ocean acidification is endangering some pteropods, such as sea snails, by eroding their shells. The sea snail is not the only threatened species—the CBD posits that most marine calcifying organisms (including oysters, clams and coral) are at risk of damage from ocean acidification.

Continue Reading Pteropods and EPA’s Approach to Ocean Acidification