BG company: Ohio wastes water test money:


A Bowling Green company claims state government is wasting taxpayer money in the way it tests lakes for toxic algae.

Ohio agencies will spend millions this year to test and clean up public lakes. But one company claims it can do it better, faster, and cheaper.

The Ohio EPA and other state agencies will spend roughly $200,000 this year to test just a dozen of nearly 450 lakes. Blue Water Satellite in Bowling Green says it can do them all with some cutting-edge satellite technology, but they’re having trouble convincing the Kasich administration.

Ohio EPA technicians showed up Monday at Olander Park to take water samples. They told a worker lake quality test results will be known sometime next year, after sending the samples to an out-of-state lab.

"That mystifies me. That absolutely does because satellite goes over on Monday, we get the data on Tuesday, so we can report the condition of that lake on Wednesday," said Jim Harpen, marketing director at Blue Water Satellite. “It’s more information, it’s faster information, it’s better information, and it costs a heck of a lot less."

Blue Water Satellite uses federal government satellite imagery and algorithms the company developed to pinpoint not only where a toxic algae bloom may be, but how bad it is. Yellow, orange and red images mean trouble.

"The stuff is toxic,” said Harpen. “It’s very toxic."

E-coli bacteria has been cause for concern at Maumee Bay State Park’s beaches for years. But cyanobacteria, which causes algae blooms, is increasingly showing up in the western basin of Lake Erie.

"It causes liver damage, kidney damage, nerve damage," explained Harpen “It has been tied to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

Company officials call it a common sense solution to a serious problem, but only time will tell if Blue Water can convince state officials.

"At the very least, the data we can provide them can help them direct their limited resources, their limited dollars to the lakes that have a problem," said Harpen.

Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio developed a toxic algae bloom so bad it closed the lake last year, costing that region an estimated $160 million in tourism. A few pets died after coming in contact with the algae blooms and several people got sick.

The state is spending $5 million to clean it up – a situation Blue Water says is preventable and cheaper elsewhere.

By Kevin Milikin, Fox Toledo News Reporter