The Algae Bloom That Threatens Great Lakes Drinking Water…

The Algae Bloom That Threatens Great Lakes Drinking Water...

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
August 24, 2014

Back when we bought our current house 15 years ago, I was feeling a bit guilty. In addition to  the house, we acquired from the previous owners a John Deere tractor with a motorized trailer attachment for collecting leaves. And my folks got us a leaf blower and a chainsaw. All items very necessary for a wooded acre lot, and I don’t regret having them. It’s just that for someone who tries to be a good environmentalist, that’s an awful lot of internal combustion engines. (My friend and motorcycle enthusiast, Monty, tried to assuage my guilt by telling me the one with the most internal combustion engines wins. Or maybe he was making fun of me…. Yeah, that was more likely it.)

So now, the same week that I draw a cartoon pointing out that Global Warming and the resulting Climate Change is having a ill effect on our drinking water supply, Jane and I became the owner of our fourth automobile. Is there anything less green than four actively used automobiles? I suppose by Monty’s standards, I am winning but not without feeling somewhat a hypocrite.

But, feelings notwithstanding, the problem of Climate Change and algae blooms threatening water supplies is real. Earlier this month, an algae bloom in Lake Erie contaminated water supplies for Toledo, Ohio and some southeastern Michigan communities. Satellite photos showed vast areas of bright green against the darker blue normal water of the lake. A wind shift caused some of the toxic algae to be drawn into the water system. Generally warmer temperatures create better conditions for this thick soup of slimy green algae to grow. More intense storms cause fertilizers to wash off to the lake and feed the blooms. It’s a real issue, and my point is that there is no sense in denying it. But also I am among the many who should consider what we might want to do about it.


  1. Joe Peltier said,

    August 26, 2014 @ 11:38 am

    Hi John!

    This is not a new problem! I have lived in Toledo and sailed lake Erie for years and have witnessed these algae blooms up close and personal. Everyone seems to point fingers at the farmers when another larger part of the problem is the antiquated water treatment systems that let raw sewage flow into the lake every time we get a heavy rain, medium rain, or heavy snow melt.. Some day I’ll have to explain what a ‘Lake Erie Cucumber” is..

    Talk to you later,


  2. John said,

    August 27, 2014 @ 11:21 am

    Um, I think I have a pretty good idea about those cucumbers, so no need on your part to elaborate. 🙂 Sorry you have first-hand knowledge of sailing through the slime. Sorrier that you and your family had to deal with the water contamination. Hope it has been a bright and sunshiny summer otherwise!

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