US Army Corps of Engineers
Buffalo District

Corps of Engineers Releases Report on Harmful Algal Blooms in Western Lake Erie

Published Sept. 22, 2014

 

Buffalo, New York – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District announces the release of a report itled: "Influence of Open-Lake Placement of Dredged Material on Western Lake Erie Basin Harmful Algal Blooms." It concluded that open-lake placement of dredged material does not contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

The externally conducted study was performed by engineering consulting firms Ecology and Environment and Limno Tech, at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District office and Engineer Research Development Center. Support was furnished by: Heidelberg University; the University of Toledo; and the University of Wisconsin–Stout. Data was contributed by: the National Ocean Service; the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory; and United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Background

The proliferation of Harmful Algal Blooms in Western Lake Erie Basin poses great concerns for our region. It is well established that Harmful Algal Blooms have caused taste and odor problems in drinking water, made drinking water treatment difficult, fouled beaches, reduced available oxygen for fish and other aquatic species, and caused human health problems due to the production of toxins. It is in the public interest to determine the root causes of Harmful Algal Blooms, and to then develop and implement strategies aimed toward reducing or eliminating them. It is important to apply a rational and objective scientific approach to evaluate the potential influence of placement of dredged material in the Western Basin of Lake Erie as it may relate to the production of Harmful Algal Blooms.

The proliferation of Harmful Algal Blooms in Western Lake Erie Basin poses great concerns for our region. It is well established that Harmful Algal Blooms have caused taste and odor problems in drinking water, made drinking water treatment difficult, fouled beaches, reduced available oxygen for fish and other aquatic species, and caused human health problems due to the production of toxins. It is in the public interest to determine the root causes of Harmful Algal Blooms, and to then develop and implement strategies aimed toward reducing or eliminating them. It is important to apply a rational and objective scientific approach to evaluate the potential influence of placement of dredged material in the Western Basin of Lake Erie as it may relate to the production of Harmful Algal Blooms.

Study Purpose

The purpose of the study was to answer the question: "What is the Potential for Placement of Toledo Harbor Dredged Material in the Western Lake Erie Basin to Influence Harmful Algal Blooms?" The study was conducted over a period of approximately 18 months and involved field sampling, laboratory analysis, and lake ecosystem modeling. Extensive water quality monitoring was conducted throughout six months of the 2013 dredging operation.

Findings

  • Open-lake placement of dredged material is not a source of bioavailable phosphorus contributing to Harmful Algal Blooms.
  • Maumee River is the dominant source of bioavailable phosphorus contributing to Harmful Algal Blooms.

Conclusion 

  • Open-lake placement of dredged material does not contribute to the development of Harmful Algal Blooms in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

The complete report is available at:

http://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Portals/45/docs/PublicReview/R-WLEB-Final-Report.pdf

Questions and comments

Email:

Public.Affairs@lrb01.usace.army.mil 

Telephone:

1-800-833-6390 (option 3)

In writing:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District

1776 Niagara Street

Buffalo, New York 14207

ATTN: CELRB-PA


Contact
Bruce Sanders
716-879-4410
bruce.i.sanders@usace.army.mil

Release no. 14-008