On September 26, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured these natural-color images of a large phytoplankton bloom in western Lake Erie.
Great Lakes On September 26, 2017, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite captured these natural-color images of a large phytoplankton bloom in western Lake Erie. © NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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The Nature Conservancy Addresses Algal Blooms

Today the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2019 harmful algal bloom forecast for Lake Erie.

Dublin, OH

The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:

“The harmful algal bloom forecast released today by NOAA underscores the urgent need for a focus on efforts that will help secure clean water. We need legislative passage and sustained funding for H2Ohio, an increase in the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices, and the development and implementation of recommendations from multi-stakeholder collaborations to support those initiatives.

The Nature Conservancy is very pleased to see in Governor DeWine’s fiscal year 2020–2021 operating budget bill the H2Ohio water quality initiative, which represents a huge advancement in addressing the harmful algal blooms that have been plaguing Ohio’s lakes and rivers.  We look forward to helping support the passage of HB 7, which would establish a trust for H2Ohio and create long-term, sustainable funding for water quality improvements. 

The increased adoption of sustainable agriculture best practices is a necessity in meeting recommended reductions in nutrients.  The Nature Conservancy is working to identify and implement on-the-ground strategies that will best capture, store and treat water.  To reduce nutrient runoff, we need a three-pronged approach that includes improving soil health and nutrient management, restoring critical floodplains and wetlands, and implementing water management tactics. Needed water management tactics include two-stage ditches and retention ponds, both of which slow the flow of water and reduce sediment from farm field runoff.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed to move forward the most effective water quality initiatives at an accelerated rate.  The newly developed Agriculture Nutrient Alliance is a related multi-stakeholder effort, including environmental leaders like The Nature Conservancy, that will facilitate the implementation of effective agriculture best management practices.  The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, set to launch later this year, aims to benchmark best practices and create a farmer certification program. This Initiative, comprised of representatives from environmental groups, including The Nature Conservancy, along with leaders in agriculture, industry and government, marks the first time these groups have formally cooperated for these purposes.  These new, statewide collaborations compliment the successful 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program—launched in March 2014 with the support of The Nature Conservancy—which encourages agricultural nutrient service providers to adopt proven best practices.  Nearly 3.2 million acres, and counting, are enrolled in the voluntary 4R program, which has expanded out of Ohio and now includes Indiana, New York, Florida, Ontario, Canada and portions of Michigan.

We are very hopeful that through a combination of voluntary efforts and practical and effective regulations we can achieve measurably cleaner waters across Ohio.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.