Scientists and water treatment plant operators throughout the region are visiting The University of Toledo Lake Erie Center to make sure equipment that measures water quality throughout algal bloom season is ready to be deployed in buoys across Lake Erie.
“It’s like in the old movies when the mission leader says, ‘Let’s synchronize our watches,’ before the team splits up,” said Dr. Tom Bridgeman, UToledo professor of ecology and director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center. “This collaboration helps to ensure conformity of data coming from the probes for the next few months.”Partners in the early-warning buoy network will do the calibration between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, May 30. Those include researchers from Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University, as well as water treatment plant operators in Cleveland, Toledo, Oregon, Elyria, Avon, Sandusky, Lorain, Ottawa and Huron. LimnoTech, YSI and Fondriest Environmental are local companies providing technology support.
UToledo’s water quality and sensor buoy annually rides the waves off the shore of the Maumee Bay State Park Lodge and Conference Center in Oregon. It is part of the Great Lakes Observing System’s early-warning network of buoys throughout the western Lake Erie basin that provides live data vital in the assessment of harmful algal blooms.
“We go out on our research vessel at least once a week for sampling throughout the summer, but the buoys are out there all the time,” Bridgeman said. “Even when it’s too rough for boats to be on the lake, the buoys can alert if something is developing or changing quickly.”
“With harmful algal bloom season just around the corner, this event brings together water treatment plant operators and UToledo, BGSU and industry experts to prepare the instruments that are a part of Lake Erie’s early-warning system,” Ed Verhamme, project engineer at LimnoTech, said.
The buoys are equipped with what is called the YSI EXO sonde, a black and blue instrument consisting of several probes to measure various water quality parameters, including how much blue-green algae are present, water temperature, clarity, oxygen levels, turbidity and pH.
It’s one piece of the battle plan to track and combat the growing harmful algal bloom in order to sound the early warning for water treatment plant operators as they work to provide safe public drinking water.
“We are watching very closely and are prepared,” Bridgeman said.