In the summer of 2018, the North Central Region Water Network teamed up with Water Resources Research Institute (WRRIs) in the twelve North Central Region States to document existing resources and programs dedicated to the raising awareness for and curbing the impact of harmful algal blooms or HABs. Together, the team cataloged existing HAB research and outreach activities and created recommendations for future educational messaging and research which they outlined in a 2019 whitepaper.
“We learned a lot during the initial project and I think a lot of the progress was made in relationship building between team members coming from Extension and state WRRIs,” notes Hanna Bates, acting associate director of the Iowa Water Center and member of the team. “Now we are moving toward implementing those recommendations outlined in the whitepaper, which is where the true work begins.”
Earlier this year the team came back together to outline how they planned to implement the action items outlined in the whitepaper. In addition to creating factsheets and other educational products around harmful algal blooms, the team is also planning a HAB Research Symposium.
The free virtual symposium will take place January 6th and 7th and is designed for Extension professionals, researchers, and water professionals throughout the region.
The team, which is now dubbed the Algal Bloom Action Team, is hoping this will be an annual event so it can serve as an annual collection of ideas, research, and other products that the Algal Bloom Action Team will disseminate through outreach materials to the public.
“We’re excited to bring together a range of stakeholders to learn about up-to-date research regarding a diverse range of HABs topics,” said Bates. “This will be an opportunity to discuss topics and examine the emergent needs of stakeholders.”
The event will gather developing research regarding harmful algal blooms and provide a space to discuss how to improve outreach and engagement to stakeholders impacted by HABs. Topics will cover state and regional HAB responses, as well as research that covers HABs impacts on animal and human health. The symposium will also feature research on monitoring, identifying, and treating HABs and preventing HABs through nutrient management.
Registration is now open for the event at https://northcentralwater.org/habsymposium/. Be sure to check this page periodically as the agenda is finalized and speakers are released.
Image by Eugene Braig