Lake Michigan not likely to be threatened by toxic algal blooms like the one from last year on Lake Erie.
The Grand Valley State University Robert A. Annis Water Resources Institute reminds all that not all algae is bad. In contrast to popular belief of being harmful, algae actually lends to half of the planet’s oxygen supply, according to WOODTV.com.
That still doesn’t let algae off the hook. The blue-green algae tends to be toxic and hazardous, the type that is now forming on Lake Erie. When this happens, and blooms form, water tends to turn into waves of foggy green.
The water affected by these toxic blooms can stretch for hundreds of square miles in stints up to two weeks. In 2014, these blooms that took over Lake Erie left thousands of people without water in their homes.
According to Dr. Alan Steinman from the Grand Valley State University Robert A. Annis Water Resources Institute said that algae needs three things in order to bloom: sunlight, warmth and nutrients.
He added that as of right now, Lake Michigan is low on nutrients which prevents the risk of dangerous blooms. The lake also tends to warm up much slower in the summer than Lake Erie.
“Lake Michigan is a much larger lake, a lot more volume of water. It’s not going to warm up nearly as much as Lake Erie does,” Steinman explained.
But inland lakes like Macatawa, Muskegon and White Lake are at a much more intense risk of producing toxic algal blooms. Inland lakes tends to get warmer, faster, and also contain a higher level of nutrients for algae to feed on like nitrogen and phosphorus.
“When they form in the inner lakes, they can form half of Muskegon Lake, half of Lake Macatawa, and they are really really thick,” Steinman said.