spread of algae discussed
By Neil Rhines
Manitowoc Herald Times
CLEVELAND - The blob has invaded Hika Bay.
About 75 people gathered Wednesday at Lakeshore Technical
College to learn more about the algae bloom that has gripped
the shoreline of Lake Michigan this summer, between North
Point in Sheboygan and Silver Creek Park in Manitowoc.
The meeting began as several people dumped buckets full
of the algae into a larger container to give those in
attendance an idea of what it smells like. As this was
being done, a recently-produced home video showed Cleveland
resident Bob Pragalz slogging through the goop (sometimes
several feet deep) at Hika Bay, the apparent algae Ground
The growth extends outwards from the shore to about 50
feet into the water, and is often several feet deep. The
algae has grown so thick that it often eliminated swimming
on several area beaches this summer and, as it rotted,
created a stench that often made it unbearable for those
visiting or living along the lake.
"Weíre upset about all the algae around Manitowoc,"
said Russ Tooley, president of Centerville Concerned Citizens
for Air, River and Environmental Solutions.
The goal of the meeting was to assemble those affected
by the algae, the agencies that work to solve the problem
and to hopefully develop a solution.
The Manitowoc County Soil and Water Conservation Department,
working with the Manitowoc County Health Department, is
actively pursuing the source of the algae blooms and other
problems plaguing area beaches this year. But Tony Smith
of Soil and Water said the solution cannot be reached
"It isnít that easy," Smith said.
Soil and Water, armed with $25,000 in state grant money,
recently began conducting antibiotic resistance testing
at area beaches to determine the source of the pollutants.
They are awaiting results.
Experts canít say at this time if the green goop sticking
to area shorelines is related to the high E. coli levels
found this summer, but Smith said the algae growth is
definitely a phenomenon.
"Iíve never seen algae like that before," Smith
Ron Schaper, citing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
findings, said he is convinced the problem is excess phosphorous
due to agricultural practices.
According to EPA tests conducted in 2000, the Manitowoc
River is the second-largest supplier of phosphorous into
the Lake Michigan basin for a river of its size. Phosphorous
is a chemical often found in materials used as fertilizer.
John Masterson, a water quality biologist with the Department
of Natural Resources, said his agency is not certain as
to the cause of the algae.
Manitowoc County Executive Dan Fischer said he is anxiously
awaiting the results of the antibiotic resistance testing.
In the meantime, he and others will continue to work
with the County Agricultural Task Force, a panel composed
of many people concerned with agriculture and the environment.