HAB Detection, Mapping, and Warning Network: Sandusky Bay

“Radar” for harmful algal blooms will give early warning to lake communities

Principal Investigator

George Bullerjahn, Bowling Green State University


Research at Bowling Green State University will make it easier for communities and water managers to prepare for harmful algal blooms that could affect drinking water.

Harmful algal blooms often produce toxins that need to be filtered out of the water before it can be safe to drink. Currently, water treatment plants such as in Toledo, Ohio only detect these toxins in Lake Erie water when they’re already pulling the water into the plant. Since that’s not enough time to switch treatment techniques, they have to use expensive, generic techniques to ensure clean water for customers.

A team led by Thomas Bridgeman, an associate professor of environmental sciences, is developing a warning system for water treatment plants that gives them 12-24 hours of lead time before water reaches the intake in Lake Erie, allowing them to adjust treatment protocols accordingly.

By combining water quality sensors with environmental monitoring, this early warning system can be thought of as working toward a “weather radar” for harmful algal blooms, which could reduce water treatment costs during the bloom season.

The end result: clean drinking water for Ohio residents and reduced costs for municipalities, using a system that can be expanded to other communities.

The End Result

Clean drinking water for communities and money savings for water plants that will be able to apply powdered activated carbon in a more targeted fashion.

Full Project Information

Read about the project at the Ohio Sea Grant website.