Direct Mitigation of a Harmful Algal Bloom in Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
SOS is pleased to announce the Great Lakes Research Consortium at SUNY-ESF, lead by Dr. Greg Boyer has successfully received a three year grant to examine a chemical treatment to hazardous blue green algae blooms with hydrogen peroxide on Sodus Bay.
The grant, titled “Direct Mitigation of a Harmful Algal Bloom in Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario” is funded by the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, GLNPO.
Algae blooms became abundant on Sodus Bay in 2010 shortening the area’s busy tourism season. Many families make Sodus Bay their annual summer destination. The economic impacts of the bloom on the region was unparalleled and was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
The liquid hydrogen peroxide treatment being studied was employed in the Netherlands where it was successful in the control of cyanobacteria at swimming beaches. In addition Ohio EPA used a similar approach in April 2011 to control toxic cyanobacteria at the state parks in Grand Lake – St Mary’s.
The first phase (“mapping”) is already underway and started this August. It will identify potential ‘hotspots” for bloom formation. Phase 2 starts next summer and will apply the treatment in small areas. This will enable a determination of the minimal level of peroxide needed to remove the cyanobacterial when a larger area of the bay is treated. There will probably be some large plastic enclosures on the Bay where limited treatment will be applied with the option of full scale treatment in two years.
NY DEC will also be involved in the permitting process and will assist with detailed monitoring of the effects and safety of this material on plankton, zooplankton and fish populations.
Public involvement played a key role in obtaining this grant. The study project has broad support throughout the business community, elected officials, and the Sodus Bay residents have stepped forward, not necessarily to offer money, but to offer their labor, housing, and facilities to help this project succeed. Save Our Sodus (SOS) has been mobilizing the community through public education seminars, its website, and weekly blue green algae e-news blast. In addition the Sodus Bay Business Association (SBBA) has taken the lead role in gathering support from the business sector.
The project itself will directly support the hiring of one part time (33%) research scientist position, one new full time graduate student, and support the hiring of two summer internships. These internships will be recruited from the local communities surrounding Sodus Bay and will provide needed employment opportunities for village and local college students.
Although it is important to note that this effort is only a short term approach that is part of a larger plan to address both the cyanobacteria problem as well as weed growth through changes in the nutrient loads, watershed management and invasive species control. The outputs from this current project will be incorporated into the larger long term goal.