Development of Indicators to Track the Remediation of Harmful Algal Blooms in Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario

Photo courtesy of Save Our Sodus, Inc.

Principle Investigator

Greg Boyer, State University of New York (glboyer@esf.edu)

Team members

  • Lindsey Gerstenslager, Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Sue Watson, Environment Canada National Water Research Institute
  • Edward Leroux, Save our Sodus, Inc.

Project Summary

Harmful and nuisance algal blooms (HNABs) are occurring with increasing frequency in the mid and lower Great Lakes. These include both toxic cyanobacteria blooms in the water column and benthic algal mats that float up and accumulate on the shore. In response, the Great Lakes Commission and US EPA through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) have initiated several projects to help remediate the occurrence and intensity of these events.

Tracking the progress of restoration and remediation efforts related to HNABS is a non‐trivial matter. HNAB events are episodic in occurrence, and extensive monitoring data (especially historical) is not available. Through this project, researchers will conduct a gap analysis of existing indicators for marine and freshwater harmful algal blooms throughout the country, including an analysis of the proposed new State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) and Great Lakes Commission indicators for HNABs. A preferred suite of indicators will be field‐tested using the GLRI remediation efforts for toxic cyanobacteria in Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario. Researchers will also assess community acceptance of these indicators by surveying members of the local bay association, Save Our Sodus, Inc. The end product of this effort will be a suite of indicators that can be used throughout the Great Lakes basin to track progress during the remediation efforts targeting harmful algal blooms. In turn, this will also help us design better monitoring programs for HNABs no matter where they may occur throughout the Great Lakes basin.