Traditionally a problem in the Midwest and around the Great Lakes, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a growing problem nationwide, according to the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. For example, Kentucky officials found toxic algae (at four lakes) during 2013, for the first time ever.
“No one wants a green, sick lake,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director. “And yet that’s what communities across the country are facing. Excessive runoff is feeding an explosion of toxic algae that is choking our waters, closing our beaches, and posing a threat to people, pets, and wildlife. This is a national problem that demands a national solution.”
This past summer 21 states issued advisories and warnings for HABs at 147 locations. While New York led the way with 50 warnings, a bloom covered Florida’s St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon with fluorescent green slime, killing fish, dolphins, manatees, and birds.
In an attempt to increase public awareness of this problem, the center teamed with Resource Media to release a report, “Toxic Algae: Coming Soon to a Lake Near You.” Additionally, the communications company also created a first-of-its kind national online map to show locations of blooms.
The problem is flying below the radar, the center said, because no federal agency tracks closures and warnings nationally, few studies have assessed the national cost of HABs, and not enough states monitor their waters.