By the Ohio Department of Natural Resources with additions by 1812Blockhouse
As a part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on Sept. 15 hosted a showcase of new technology aimed at eliminating harmful algal blooms (HABs). Utilizing a research and development grant from the Ohio Water Development Authority, ODNR partnered with AECOM Technical Services to demonstrate the Algae Harvesting Hydronucleation Flotation Technology (HFT) in William H. Harsha Lake at East Fork State Park.
This new technology will benefit the state’s wetlands projects, including one in Richland County.
“We want to attack Ohio’s water quality issues from every possible angle and that means staying on top of cutting-edge technology,” Gov. DeWine said. “Each step toward cleaner water is a win for our H2Ohio initiative. This machine has proven effective in other parts of the country, and we’re hoping to have those same results here.”
The HFT is designed to physically remove algae, nutrients (like phosphorus and nitrogen), carbon, and cyanotoxins from the water. AECOM submitted a proposal to the H2Ohio Technology Assessment Program and was identified by the Ohio EPA as one of ten emerging technologies that could play an important role in the reduction of HABs in Ohio. The algae harvester has been successfully tested in multiple field-based studies outside of Ohio, including work with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Many of Ohio’s inland lakes suffer from harmful algal blooms,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We are excited to see the effectiveness of this technology in reducing HABs in Harsha Lake thanks to this new technology and hope to be able to identify its use on a larger scale in the future.”
Harsha Lake, because of the size and toxicity of previous HABs at the beaches, was chosen as the optimal body of water for the project. ODNR and AECOM will document the effectiveness of the HFT under site-specific conditions in Ohio.
“Harmful algal blooms are problematic and threaten many Ohio waterways. We applaud Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio program and the ODNR for their support of AECOM’s innovative algae harvesting technology,” said Dan Levy, AECOM Vice President. “Algae harvesting is a powerful tool for mitigating harmful algal blooms and protecting the health and well-being of communities across the state.”
ODNR currently has more than 110 wetland projects complete or underway across the state, including the Black Fork Forest Preserve Wetland Restoration Project in Richland County. The Black Fork Wetlands Restoration restores over 150 acres of active farmland on a 478-acre property owned by Natural Areas Land Conservancy (NALC) in Mifflin Township. The project creates approximately 85 acres of wetland and 75 acres of native upland habitat within the Mohican River watershed. This project reverts hydric soils to wetlands in order to sequester nutrients from surrounding agricultural runoff and trap nutrients and sediment before entering the Black Fork of the Mohican River. It also creates a new wetland buffer along 4,220 linear feet of a tributary that flows directly into the Black Fork of the Mohican River.
Governor DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio was launched with support from the Ohio General Assembly, which invested in the program in Ohio’s two most recent operating budgets. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.