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'State of the Science' Algal Bloom Conference Thursday
Ohio Ag Connection - 09/13/2017

More than a dozen Ohio scientists studying harmful algal blooms -- the pea-green, sometimes-toxic outbreaks plaguing Lake Erie and other waters -- will discuss their latest findings at the second State of the Science: Understanding Algal Blooms Conference on Thursday in Toledo.

The scientists will report, for example, on "fingerprinting" phosphorus sources, a new early warning system for blooms in western Lake Erie, new precision agriculture technology for farmers, removal of bloom toxins by home drinking water filters, and links in the U.S. between bloom toxins and public health.

Experts say phosphorus runoff from farm fertilizer, sewage and other sources is a cause of the blooms, which can hurt drinking water, lake ecosystems, recreation and tourism.

"A tremendous amount of impactful research is being directed to harmful algal blooms, and this conference provides an opportunity for researchers to communicate their work and findings to agencies, decision-makers, the media, their peers and citizens that live within the lake's watershed," said Christopher Winslow, co-host of the event and director of The Ohio State University's Ohio Sea Grant program and Stone Laboratory.

"Further, this year's bloom is evidence that the research and outreach efforts currently underway to reduce nutrient loading, optimize water treatment and understand bloom dynamics need to continue," he said.

In July, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a significant summer algal bloom in western Lake Erie.

The speakers at the conference will come from Ohio Sea Grant; Ohio State's colleges of Engineering, Public Health, and Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES); Bowling Green State University; the University of Toledo; the National Weather Service; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA); and northwest Ohio's Blanchard River Farms Demonstration Network.

The conference's 15 sessions will be grouped under three themes: Agricultural Advances for Production and Water Quality, Bloom Biology and Water Quality, and Public Health and Water Treatment. The full list of topics and speakers is at go.osu.edu/AlgalBloomConference.

Co-hosts of the conference with Winslow are:

- Jay Martin, professor in CFAES's Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering (FABE)

- Greg LaBarge, agronomic systems field specialist with CFAES's Ohio State University Extension outreach arm

- Kristen Fussell, assistant director for research and administration with Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab

- Kevin King, research leader with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in Columbus.

King is housed in FABE. Winslow and Fussell have partial appointments with CFAES, NOAA and Ohio State's Office of Research. Winslow, Fussell and Martin will be among the conference's speakers.

After the speakers, a poster session will feature student projects including ones funded by the Ohio Department of Education's Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative.

Registration for the conference, which is open to the public and the media, is $30 at go.osu.edu/AlgalBloomRegistration. Registration for students is $10 at the same link. Participants will be eligible for 5.25 Ohio EPA contact hours.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Stranahan Theater and Great Hall, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd., in Toledo.

For details, visit go.osu.edu/AlgalBloomConference, or contact Winslow at winslow.33@osu.edu or 614-292-8949.

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