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Results of 2014 harmful algal bloom state survey released

Toxic algae outbreaks, or Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a widespread problem across the U.S., but few states have programs dedicated to monitoring or reporting on these outbreaks. That’s the top finding in a 50-state survey conducted in spring 2014 by Resource Media and the National Wildlife Federation.

Survey created by: Resource Media & The National Wildlife Federation"

TOPLINE FINDINGS
Assessing the Seriousness of HABs
• 71% of responding states reported that HABs are either a “somewhat serious” or a “very serious” problem
• No responding states reported that HABs are “not an issue”
• More than half (20) of responding states reported that “HABs occur every year in many lakes and/or other fresh water bodies in my state”
• 49% (19) of states reported actively monitoring some public access lakes/water bodies that have experienced HABs in the past
• One state (Nebraska) actively monitors all public access lakes/water bodies for HABs
• 56% (22) of responding states reported relying, at least in part, on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs to 31% (12) of responding states reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs
• 38% (15) of responding states reported not tracking any of the impacts of HABs
• Of states that do track HAB impacts, the most commonly reported impact to be tracked/studied was animal mortalities (54%)
• Two states (Oklahoma and Virginia) reported tracking or studying Emergency Room admissions
• Three states (Hawaii, Kansas and Oklahoma) reported tracking or studying tourism statistics in relation to HABs
• 77% (30) of responding states reported that they do not have a HAB hotline for the public to report HABs.
• This includes 11 of the 12 states that reported relying solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report HABs

Public Information
• 73% (27) of responding states reported that they “provide information to those who request it”
• 4 states (Alabama, Alaska, New Mexico and Utah) reported that they “provide information to those who request it”, but do not disseminate information to the public in any other way
• The following methods of communication with the public received between 46% and 49% popositive responses:
• My state alerts the local media about HABs and/or health advisories with a press release or press advisory
• My state provides information about the location and/or severity on a publicly available website
• My state posts signs at HAB impacted beaches/lakes/communities to educate local residents and visitors
• My state provides general education to the public about what to do if they suspect a HAB
• Two states (Kansas and New York) reported using Facebook and/or Twitter to announce information about HABs, health advisories or beach closures
• More than half (20) of the responding states reported tracking historic data on HABs and all but two of those states reported providing public access to that data

Action
• 12 states reported running a HAB program (i.e. with dedicated staff, a budget, a planning process).
• 3 of those states (New York, Virginia and Washington) reported that their HAB programs have dedicated funding
• 47% (18) of responding states reported “actively addressing known causes of HABs”
• 4 states (Alaska, Maine, Nevada and New Mexico) reported taking no action on HABs, past, present or future