Skip to main content

SDSU Extension Teams Up to Mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms Across the Midwest and Beyond

December 17, 2018
A body of water covered in a layer of thick, blue green algae
Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs have a negative impact on bodies of water.

BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension staff and South Dakota State University faculty are currently serving on a regional team of professionals which are focused on mitigating Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs.

The team is a partnership of Upper Midwest land-grant university and Extension personnel collaborating with Water Resources Research Institute staff to provide HAB mitigation education and research throughout the north-central region.

"HABs are a frequent and frustrating occurrence in many South Dakota surface waterbodies," said David Kringen, SDSU Extension Water Resources Field Specialist.

He explained that HABs have a negative impact on bodies of water because, among other issues, they produce life-threatening toxins if ingested, create dead zones and increase water treatment costs.

"As a resident of Mitchell, I see the consequences that these annual, summer-long blooms can have on both the quality of Lake Mitchell, quality of life for citizens, as well as the extraordinary financial investment city government faces when combatting the issue."

HABs are not an isolated issue.

"HABs are in bodies of water all over the U.S. and the world. The frequency and intensity with which these blooms occur can be linked to human activities that deliver excessive nutrients to our surface water resources," he explained. "Agricultural and urban runoff, along with discharges from wastewater systems are all examples that have been shown to increase the nutrient enrichment of our waterways."

The group formed May 2018, after receiving funds from a North Central Region Water Network mini-grant. Since forming, they have begun work to accomplish the following:

  • Inventory existing material and literature regarding HABs in each respective state. 
  • Assess current material and identify information gaps and educational outreach programming needs across the region.
  • Develop recommendations for strengthening HAB research and outreach.

Currently, South Dakota Extension and Water Resources Research Institute staff are putting together an inventory of all algal bloom-related material to be shared during an upcoming work session.

"It is hoped that this project will strengthen research and outreach activities regarding HABs, expand the informational resources available to the public, and improve policy and practices," Kringen said.

In addition to Kringen, the other SDSU and SDSU Extension staff involved include Rachel McDaniel, Assistant Professor/Water Resource Engineer and John McMaine, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Water Management Engineer.