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Maumee River trip reveals phosphorus Concerns

NBC 24 -- Record-setting June rain has made the Maumee a mighty river.

NBC 24 Anchor Jim Blue picked a rare day between storms to kayak a six-mile stretch and take water samples to detect dissolved phosphorus.

Phosphorus causes algae to bloom in Lake Erie in late July and early August.

The latest report from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration shows that the phosphorus levels are higher. That's due largely to the recent rains. More water would appear to be a good thing because it would dilute the phosphorus. But the fact of the matter is that the runoff spikes after heavy rains and there is a higher concentration of phosphorus.

Last year the algae microcystin poisoned Toledoâ??s water supply, forcing a half-million consumers to drink and cook using bottled water.

After three decades of sampling -- as many as three times a day, every day -- scientists have determined that more phosphorus flows into Lake Erie from the Maumee than any other river. Most from farm runoff.

And the amount of phosphorus has climbed since the early 19-80s.

After our trip, I tested our samples.

The levels were between one and two milligrams per liter, consistent with what scientists have found.

I interviewed dr. Laura Johnson of the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University. She is one of the leading scientists testing the Maumee.

On Thursday, July 9th the seasonal algae prediction will be issued. Johnson says by then hopefully there will be another two weeks of data that will give researchers more confidence in their prediction

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