COLUMBUS, Ohio — The final forecast from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) is in and the 2021 algal bloom is expected to have a low severity index of 3. This forecast uses an ensemble of different models, which consider phosphorus loading into the lake during the spring and early summer.
If realized, this will be the fourth year out of the past six that the algal bloom will be rated less than 4 on a scale of 1 (mild) to 10 (severe), and data suggests that weather is not the only determining factor for these lower numbers in recent years.
According to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, the amount of dissolved reactive phosphorus feeding into the Maumee River has been in a steady decline since 2015 and soil tests taken by The Fertilizer Institute show a continued downward trend of total phosphorus levels across Ohio over that same time period.
Add to that initiatives like H2Ohio and the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI) certification program helping farmers find more and better nutrient management practices and those results will continue in the right direction, according to Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality and research with Ohio Farm Bureau.
“Progress has been made when it comes to agriculture’s role in improving Ohio’s water quality, but there is still plenty of work to be done,” Hoewischer said. “As H2Ohio expands into other areas of the Lake Erie Watershed, farmers need to get involved in that program and OACI to find additional ways to reduce nutrient runoff. The success of these voluntary programs are important and if positive results aren’t achieved that could very well determine if additional regulations will be imposed on Ohio agriculture in the future.”
The final algal bloom statistics for 2021 will be released by NOAA in September.
Ohio Farm Bureau’s mission is working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities. Learn more at ohiofarmbureau.org.
— Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
For more articles out of Ohio, click here.