Agriculture Department Pledges $41 Million to Address Algae Blooms

This satellite image shows the furthest reach of the algae bloom in September 2015.
This satellite image shows the furthest reach of the algae bloom in September 2015. (Image: NOAA)

by Nick Castele

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week said it was putting $41 million toward helping farmers prevent nutrient runoff linked to toxic algae blooms. The money will go to landowners around the western basin of Lake Erie.

Terry Cosby is the Ohio conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, a federal agency. He said the money will help fund voluntary projects aimed at managing water on fields, such as planting cover crops. 

"We’re not going to try to stop the water," he said. "But what we’re doing is we’re just trying to clean it up. So when it does get to the Maumee River and then into Lake Erie, it doesn’t have phosphorous, nitrogen and some of those other things, nutrients, that should be left on the farm field."

Federal researchers said last year’s algae bloom in Lake Erie was the most severe on record. The blooms typically are heavier in the western part of the lake, near Toledo. 

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