Senator Charles Schumer says "conditions are ripe" for a record toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie that could threaten local drinking water.
A variety of factors, Schumer says, have led to a substantial increase in the amount of blue/green algae.
"This winter the problem was worse than usual," Schumer told reporters at a Monday gathering.
"The Polar Vortex and then the mild temperatures that occurred right after caused rapid melting. This caused extra runoff from nearby farms whose soils, of course, contain phosphorous and that contributed to the growing algae populations in Lake Erie."
He says there are still no federal testing standards for toxic algae in drinking water. So Schumer is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to issue guidelines for water treatment plants. He also wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate the Great Lakes a "Critical Conservation Area" which would give farmers funding to help prevent runoff.
"If we could do these two things we could get a real handle on this problem before it becomes a nightmare. Now it's just a potential problem but if we do nothing it could become a disaster."
According to Schumer, the National Wildlife Federation recently named New York number one for blue green algae.