In NOAA’s annual Arctic Report Card, scientists highlighted the recent rise of toxic algae blooms in the region. The blooms, common in more temperate climates, are expected to increase in the Arctic, affecting people who depend on wild foods.
Some 169 toxic algal blooms were reported in 40 states in 2017, compared to only three blooms in 2010, says the Environmental Working Group in a report released today that names agricultural runoff as a primary factor. The EWG says farmers should be required to meet basic standards for control of nutrient runoff because voluntary efforts are insufficient.
A day after the Ohio EPA declared the western end of Lake Erie to be an impaired wateryway, agency director Craig Butler said, "The time has come that we can't rely on voluntary programs" to reduce nutrient runoff that feeds algal blooms in the lake, reported Associated Press. To address the problem, the state announced a set of new proposals to reduce runoff from farms and wastewater plants.
When heavy rainfall sweeps the countryside, waterways are flooded with peak levels of the nutrient phosphorus, which can trigger algal blooms and create dead zones in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters, says a newly published study.
An investigation by activist groups Mighty Earth and ActionAid USA challenges the notion of biodiesel as the environmentally responsible fuel of the future. Burned: Deception, Deforestation and America’s Biodiesel Policy claims that growing demand for biodiesel in the U.S. contributes to a host of problems, from deforestation in Argentina and Indonesia to algae blooms in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.
The algal bloom in Lake Erie this summer, fed in part by agricultural runoff, was roughly the same size as in 2013, the third-most severe bloom in 15 years of federal records, said the Associated Press.
With the commercial crab-fishing season approaching, California officials warn that toxic algae might delay this year’s catch. “Domoic acid is the naturally occurring toxin caused by algal blooms that delayed the past two Dungeness crab seasons,” explains the San Francisco Chronicle. “According to test results from the California Department of Public Health, elevated levels of the toxin have shown up in samples of Dungeness crab collected in recent weeks at several North Coast ports.”
Heavy rainfall in May washed the equivalent of an estimated 2,800 rail cars of nitrogen fertilizer down the Mississippi River and will create the third-largest fish-killing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico in 32 years of monitoring, say federal scientists. They forecast a low-oxygen dead zone of 8,185 square miles, about the size of New Jersey.