Aerial view of Lake Erie with a Harmful Algal Bloom from September 2017

New whitepaper outlines current outreach around harmful algal blooms and makes recommendations for the future

Representatives from Extension and the Water Resources Research Institutes (WRRIs) in the North Central Region recently released a whitepaper addressing next steps to combat harmful algal bloom-related issues throughout the region.

The frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms (HABs), or blue green algae, are increasing and are expected to continue to increase due to changing climate conditions and increased nutrient loss and runoff into bodies of water. HABs have a variety of effects on healthy ecosystem functionality and local and regional water systems, impacting entire social and ecological communities.

Given the variability in HABs-related information available, the North Central Region Water Network and the WRRIs in the North Central Region teamed up to fund the “Partnering to Mitigate HABs” team. With representatives from Extension and WRRI in each state this multidisciplinary group documented existing Extension and state responses to HAB-related issues, assessed outreach programming needs, and developed recommendations for strengthening HAB research and outreach throughout the region.

The team’s whitepaper outlines research and outreach activities in the North Central Region, future recommendations, funding opportunities and lessons learned.

After analyzing HAB-related research, the team proposed five key topic areas for outreach messaging: general HABs knowledge; identifying, monitoring and treating HABs; human health and HABs; animal health and HABs; and landscape nutrient management practices and HABs.

The whitepaper also highlights future research needs in order to better understand HABs. This includes research needed to discover which water bodies are most at risk, which HABs are toxic, the long-term human health effects from HAB exposure, and the effects of HABs on agricultural practices and fisheries.

Moving forward, the team will address the recommendations and future research needs outlined in the whitepaper and use the framework of Extension and WRRI collaboration as a model for enabling future HABs research and outreach within the region.  If you are interested in joining the group, please contact Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center and the project manager for the team.

For more information on the project, visit the team’s webpage.

Photo by the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

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