Saginaw Bay Runoff Research, and Algae Maps for All

The Environment Report, heard at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. From Sept. 13, 2013:

-1- Eight research grants, totaling nearly $2.9 million, have been awarded by the University of Michigan Water Center to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

The two-year grants were awarded to researchers at universities in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York.

The projects will support efforts to restore native fish migrations across the Great Lakes Basin,  improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and guide ecological restoration of Saginaw Bay.

The Saginaw Bay grant involves $413,000 awarded to a Saginaw Valley State University researcher. The money will go to assess projects within the Kawkawlin, Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers that have been aimed at reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural land into the bay, and develop priorities to guide future conservation efforts.

The grant was awarded to David Karpovich, director of SVSU’s Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute.

Karpovich says the project will integrate available data, models, and decision tools to address the scientific gap between the placement of land-based conservation actions and their resulting ecological outcomes in rivers and nearshore areas of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

The results will be used to guide future placement of agricultural best management practices for the best possible ecological outcomes at the lowest cost and impact to the community, SVSU officials said in a news release.

The project is slated for completion in September 2015.

– 2 – Scientists at Michigan Tech Research Institute are using satellite data to determine where harmful algal blooms are increasing in the Great Lakes and what threats they may pose to water quality and public health.

The project generates maps of the Western Basin of Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, and Green Bay on Lake Michigan. The maps show the location and extent of blooms, along with areas of water quality and public health concern. The maps are updated weekly, and made available online to the public.

Harmful algal blooms develop when nutrients from agricultural runoff encourage the development of high algae levels that can clog water intake pipes, affect the quality of drinking water, potentially harm pets and make humans sick, according to Michigan Tech.

Climate change is another factor. Algae thrive in warmer water, and the water temperature in the Great Lakes has risen in recent years, and continues to rise.

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