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Lake Erie Algal Bloom reaches Record High

Update Date: Nov 14, 2015 01:57 PM EST

This year's algal bloom in Lake Erie has been the biggest ever assessed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The scum released by the algal bloom is spread over an area of 300 square miles, which is as big as New York City at its peak in August, according to CBS News 

In the summer and spring seasons, the excessive rainfall as well as rich fertilizers from nearby Ohio and Indiana farms made the algal blooms expand so much that a specific parts of the lake were deprived of oxygen and also affected the fish. The entire season rose in mid-August and started reducing near September.

"The bloom in Sandusky Bay has also diminished, dropping below medium concentration for the first time this season. No other blooms are evident in the central and eastern basins," NOAA said in an October Bulletin. "We do not expect that the bloom will reappear." Cautionary messages were beamed to boaters.

The excessive phosphorus and nitrogen helped to expand the blooms, while with the heavy rains, the farmland runoff too pours into the lake.

Indiana and Ohio this year received more rain than usual, while June happened to be among the top 20 wettest Junes on record since 1880, reported The Washington Post 

Toxins called microcystins are present in the algae. When they exist in large blooms, these toxins touch high levels. Water polluted with microcystins can induce vomiting, stomach pain, fever and extreme headache.

Last year, an algal bloom that polluted the tap water in Toledo impacted 400,000 residents. However, this year the algal blooms were focused and at remote points away from the shores, which made the water safer.

Earlier this year, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario officials agreed that they would take measures to see that the agricultural runoff into Lake Erie will come down in 10 years.

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