Low Levels of Toxic Algae Detected At Cleveland Beaches

Satellite image of Lake Erie from July 3, 2018 [NOAA GLERL]
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An algae bloom was identified in Lake Erie’s central basin this week, causing increased testing and increased caution at Cleveland’s beaches.

Toxin concentrations were high only one day last week. On Friday, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District detected a concentration of 10ppb (parts per billion) at Edgewater Beach. Ohio’s recreational threshold is 6ppb.

Tests from the sewer district every day since then have shown low levels.

“We’re sampling it every day for a week, and after one week, if it’s still below the threshold, that would be the point where the guidance say we can have the beach sign taken down,” said Scott Broski, the sewer district’s Superintendent of Environmental Services.

This isn’t the first time algae blooms have shown up in Cleveland. Broski notes large blooms in 2013 at both Edgewater and Villa Angela Beach, and small blooms at both beaches in 2015.

This year’s bloom was different.

“I think this one was a little intense than what we’ve seen in the past, and in the past we’ve seen microcystis,” said Broski. “In this case, it was anabaena, which is a different cyanobacteria.”

An example of the signs hanging at Edgewater and Villa Angela Beach [Cleveland Metroparks]

Anabaena can produce harmful toxins, causing nausea and skin irritation.

Both the US Geological Survey’s NowCast map and the Ohio Beachguard website offer updates on beach conditions. NEORSD shares conditions at Edgewater and Villa Angela beaches daily.

The Cleveland Metroparks post water quality signs at its beaches.

Broski says the Cleveland Division of Water has been monitoring raw water coming into its plants, but haven’t noticed anything that would affect drinking water.

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