From: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Published July 22, 2017 12:41 PM

New robotic lab tracking toxicity of Lake Erie algal bloom

A new research tool to safeguard drinking water is now keeping a watchful eye on Lake Erie. This week, a robotic lake-bottom laboratory began tracking the levels of dangerous toxins produced by cyanobacteria that bloom each summer in the lake's western basin.

The goal is to provide advance warning to municipal drinking water managers and thereby prevent a recurrence of the water crisis that left more than 400,000 Toledo-area residents without safe drinking water for about two days in early August 2014 due to high levels of microcystin toxins.

The purchase of the $375,000 device, which is known as an environmental sample processor or ESP, was a direct response to the Toledo event. It is positioned at a spot on the lake bottom where it can provide about one day's notice if highly toxic water appears to be headed toward the city's water intake.

Tests will be done every other day initially, then increased to once a day starting Aug. 1 to coincide with the expected peak in bloom toxicity. Test results are automatically emailed to the inboxes of researchers back in Ann Arbor. 

Read more at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Photo: The robotic laboratory ESPniagara is lowered to the bottom of Lake Erie on July 11 to measure microcystin toxins produced by cyanobacteria. Tests will be conducted every other day initially, then increased to once a day starting Aug. 1 to coincide with the expected toxicity peak.

Photo by Mike Wood / Michigan News.

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