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Ohio EPA Launches New Interactive Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Map at Start of Water Recreation Season
To kick off the beginning of recreational season at Ohio’s state park lakes, Ohio EPA launched a new web-based map application which will enable Ohioans to view real-time data regarding recreational use advisories for HABs at state park beaches, and drinking water public notices.
The new website provides interactive geospatial content to users. The new and improved online tool enables citizens to better understand current advisories or harmful algal bloom (HAB) sampling data. The map shows a color-coded snapshot of the entire state, with more information about any active advisories with a click of the mouse.
HABs have the potential to produce toxins which could potentially impact the health of people and animals that come into contact with water where high levels of the algal toxins are present. If Ohio lake goers see algae or scum on the surface of a lake, they should avoid contact with it.
Recreational Use Advisories
There are two recreational use advisories:
- The recreational public health advisory (orange) would be posted if toxin levels exceed the recommended threshold. At this point, the public is advised that swimming and wading are not recommended, the water should not be swallowed and surface scum should be avoided.
- A no contact advisory (red) would advise the public to avoid all contact with the water at that location. A no contact advisory would be posted if sampling results showed toxin levels above the recommended threshold and there has been a reported probable human illness or pet death.
Once a recreational use advisory is posted, the State will periodically sample until the bloom is gone and toxin levels are below the threshold.
Drinking Water Advisories
If microcystin, anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin or saxitoxin is found above thresholds in the treated water of a public drinking water system, the water system will issue a public notice to let customers know there is a drinking water advisory. Depending on the toxin level detected, the water system will issue either a do not drink or do not use warning. The public water system may remove a public notice when algal toxin levels are below the drinking water thresholds in two consecutive samples collected at least 24 hours apart.
Ohio EPA worked with the State of Ohio Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office to develop this application. The group plans to add more interactive GIS maps dealing with other environmental topics. All Ohio EPA GIS maps can be found online at http://epa.ohio.gov/gis.aspx. All HAB advisories also will be listed at ohioalgaeinfo.com.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. In the past 40 years, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. Ohio EPA….40 years and moving forward.