EPA head: Green Bay waters could be ripe for algae

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Conditions in the waters of Green Bay could develop the same kind of algae that caused the water in Ohio to be undrinkable for a few days, according to the head of the regional U.S. Environmental Protection Agency office.

EPA regional administrator Susan Hedman said the waters of Green Bay have significant algal blooms, as reported by Wisconsin Public Radio.

“It’s possible that conditions could be ripe for the development of blue-green algae and other types of harmful algal blooms,” Hedman said while in Milwaukee last week.

Scientists and farmers agree that phosphorus from agriculture runoff is feeding the blue-green algae blooms on Lake Erie that are linked to a toxin found in the drinking water of 400,000 people in Ohio and southeastern Michigan last week.

But Hedman says like in some other parts of the Great Lakes, federal restoration money is being spent to reduce phosphorus pollution in Green Bay.

An environmental group, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, praises EPA officials’ effort in Green Bay, and hails state of Wisconsin’s attempts to reduce phosphorus released from sewage treatment plants and runoff from farm fields.

However, the alliance’s Lyman Welch said that it might be time to have more than voluntary measures.

“It’s important that we look at the entire watershed and really address all sources of phosphorus pollution,” Welch said.

Welch said that there needs to measurable reductions in phosphorus loading to the Great Lakes within a firm timeframe. Otherwise, people in Toledo and maybe other lakeside locations will be back on bottled drinking water.

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