Potentially harmful algae turning Lake Erie green

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Potentially Harmful Algae Turning Lake Erie Green

A potentially harmful phenomenon is making a resurgence this year, causing lakes to change color.

NASA recently released overhead images of western Lake Erie and nearby Lake St. Clair turning bright green as algae blooms begin to encroach upon the water.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that this year's concentration is expected to be about 8.7 on a 10-point severity scale, but could possibly reach up to 9.5.

A 10 was reached in 2011, the worse year for algae on record on Lake Erie.

Sunlight, warm temperatures, and high levels of nutrients are causing the intense growth.

Part of the problem is the high level of phosphorus that was added when heavy rains resulted in runoff from agriculture.

According to one expert, the dire forecast reflects "the urgent need to take action to address the problems caused by excessive amounts of nutrients from fertilizer, manure and sewage flowing into our lakes and streams."

High amounts of algae can threaten safe drinking water, close off swimming areas, and kill fish by absorbing the water's oxygen.

Images of Lake Erie's algae problem in 2014:
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Algae in Lake Erie
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Potentially harmful algae turning Lake Erie green
FILE- This Aug. 3, 2014 file photo shows Algae near the City of Toledo water intake crib, in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. Researchers who have been keeping a close eye on Lake Erie say they think this summer will bring one of the most severe toxic algae outbreaks in recent years. It was almost a year ago that toxins from the algae contaminated the drinking water for 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2014, file photo, the City of Toledo water intake crib is surrounded by algae in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. Toledo has detected the first signs in Lake Erie of the dangerous toxin that resulted in a water crisis last year that left 400,000 people in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan without safe tap water for two days announced Monday, July 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)
OREGON, OH - AUGUST 3: Eden Rogers, 13, uses a stick to try and scoop algae off the shoreline as the shadows of her sisters Brittany Rogers, 27, and Danielle Rogers, 24, with Danielle's toy Australian Shepherd, Barniby, walk the beach at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio on Sunday, August 3, 2014. The sisters, who grew up in the Toledo area, said they came to the beach to look at the Algae bloom, along the shore of Lake Erie, which has rendered the city of Toledo under a State of Emergency after a toxin from the algae polluted the city water supply rendering about 400,000 people in the Toledo area without useable water. (Photo by Ty Wright for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A detail photograph of the Lake Erie water near the City of Toledo water intake crib, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. More tests are needed to ensure that toxins are out of Toledo's water supply, the mayor said Sunday, instructing the 400,000 people in the region to avoid drinking tap water for a second day. Toledo officials issued the warning early Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed two sample readings for microcystin above the standard for consumption, possibly because of algae on Lake Erie. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
TOLEDO, OHIO - AUGUST 4: Algae coats rocks at Maumee Bay State Park August 4, 2014 in Oregon, Ohio. Toledo, Ohio area residents were once again able to drink tap water after a two day ban due to algae related toxins. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
TOLEDO, OHIO - AUGUST 4: Carol Snyder of Northwood, Ohio holds up a jar with water collected from Lake Erie at Maumee Bay State Park August 4, 2014 in Oregon, Ohio. Toledo, Ohio area residents were once again able to drink tap water after a two day ban due to algae related toxins. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
TOLEDO, OHIO - AUGUST 4: Algae washes ashore from Lake Erie at Maumee Bay State Park August 4, 2014 in Oregon, Ohio. Toledo, Ohio area residents were once again able to drink tap water after a two day ban due to algae related toxins. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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