Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Monitoring
Public water systems with a surface water source(s) must comply with HAB monitoring and reporting rule requirements (OAC 3745-90-03). Public water systems may be eligible for reduced monitoring, based on cyanotoxin occurrence and treatment capability. Please click the links below, to view the HAB monitoring schedule assignments for each public water system, HAB monitoring requirements by schedule, and HAB sampling triggers and implementation guidance.
2022 HAB-Season Monitoring for HABs: Microcystins and Cyanobacteria Screening (qPCR) Sampling
*EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 3, 2022, more information below schedule table*
Starting the first week in May (5/1/2022), PWSs in Ohio will follow HAB season monitoring requirements per their assigned schedule. All PWS assigned to schedule 1 and 2 are assigned the same biweekly cyanobacterial monitoring periods. PWSs should collect cyanobacteria screening and microcystin samples based on the assigned HAB season monitoring schedule instructions below.
Schedule 1: PWSs must collect weekly raw and finished water microcystins samples and biweekly qPCR samples beginning the week of May 1, 2022. The cyanobacteria screening sample must be paired with the weekly raw and finished water microcystins samples.
Schedule 2: PWSs will collect their first biweekly cyanobacterial sample the week of May 1, 2022. They will collect their first biweekly raw water microcystins sample the week of May 8, 2022. Cyanobacteria screening and raw water microcystins samples must be collected on alternating weeks thereafter.
Schedule 3: PWSs must collect a monthly cyanobacteria screening sample beginning May 1, 2022.
Schedule 4: PWSs must collect a weekly finished water microcystins sample beginning May 1, 2022.
Biweekly Monitoring Schedule for Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 PWS:
|HAB Season Biweekly Sampling Schedule|
|5/1/2022 – 5/7/2022||5/8/2022 – 5/14/2022|
|5/15/2022 – 5/21/2022||5/22/2022 – 5/28/2022|
|5/29/2022 – 6/4/2022||6/5/2022 – 6/11/2022|
|6/12/2022 - 6/18/2022||6/19/2022 - 6/25/2022|
|6/26/2022 - 7/2/2022||7/3/2022 - 7/9/2022|
|7/10/2022 - 7/16/2022||7/17/2022 - 7/23/2022|
|7/24/2022 - 7/30/2022||7/31/2022 – 8/6/2022|
|8/7/2022 – 8/13/2022||8/14/2022 – 8/20/2022|
|8/21/2022 – 8/27/2022||8/28/2022 – 9/3/2022|
|9/4/2022 - 9/10/2022||9/11/2022 - 9/17/2022|
|9/18/2022 - 9/24/2022||9/25/2022- 10/1/2022|
|10/2/2022 – 10/8/2022||10/9/2022 – 10/15/2022|
|10/16/2022 – 10/22/2022||10/23/2022 – 10/29/2022|
|10/30/22 – 11/5/2022||11/6/2022 – 11/12/2022|
|11/13/2022 – 11/19/2022||11/20/2022 – 11/26/2022|
|11/27/2022 –12/3/2022||Start Off-Season|
DATE: IMPORTANT 2022 HAB Rule Update
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters (DDAGW) has adopted the amended rules in the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-90 (posted under DDAGW Proposed Rules until effective date) along with the amended Ohio EPA Method 701.0 - Total (Extracellular and Intracellular) Microcystins - ADDA by ELISA Version 2.4.
The amended rules will be effective as of Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.
HAB season monitoring for 2022 will extend until the first full week of December 2022 (grayed out on table). PWS should follow their current monitoring schedule guidelines based on the 2020 PWS HAB Response Strategy and the 2016 OAC Chapter 3745-90 until Dec. 4, 2022.
Please contact your district HAB coordinator with any questions. To find your district office, please visit the district office webpage.
What is a harmful algal bloom (HAB)?
Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) are microscopic organisms found naturally in surface water that can sometimes multiply to form harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs can potentially produce toxins capable of causing illness or irritation, sometimes even death, in pets, livestock and humans.
In addition to producing toxins, cyanobacteria can pose other treatment challenges for public water systems, including taste and odor and shortened filter run times. The information below is provided to assist public water system operators with preventing, identifying and responding to HABs.
How to Recognize HABs
Use the following reference documents and photographs to learn more about recognizing HABs. For additional photographs and information, please visit Ohioalgaeinfo.com.
- Attend the Algae Identification Workshop offered by Stone Laboratory during the summer months.
- Bloom Characterization Guide - Photographs of assorted blooms: includes HABs, non-harmful green algae blooms and duckweed
Responding to & Reporting a Suspected Bloom
All public water system owners/operators are encouraged to read through the "Public Water System Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Response Strategy" for guidance on responding to HABs.
If you see surface scum or something that looks like cyanobacteria at Ohio's rivers, lakes, or public swimming beaches, report it to Ohio EPA by completing the online bloom report form or the paper form and emailing it to HABmailbox@epa.ohio.gov.
Prevention and Treatment
- AWWA White Paper on Cyanotoxin Treatment (2016)
- Algaecide Application Fact Sheet
- Developing a Harmful Algal Bloom Treatment Optimization Protocol-Guidance for Public Water Systems
- Fillable form for HAB Treatment Optimization Protocol
- Developing a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) General Plan-Guidance For Public Water Systems
HAB Response Strategies, Maps, & Data
- Public Water System Harmful Algal Bloom Response Strategy (2020)
- Ohio HAB Response for Recreational Waters
Maps & Data
- Public Water System Station IDs
- Ohio Public Water System Lakes
- Public Water System and Other Surface Water Monitoring Data
- Drinking Water Advisories
- Beachguard Recreational and Beach Monitoring Data
Visual Bloom Severity and Toxin Concentrations
Visual bloom severity is often not the best indication of toxin concentrations at intake depths. When the blooms are concentrated at the surface, toxin concentrations at the intake can be lower. For example, when Lake Erie was covered by extensive surface scums (Figure 1) in 2011, toxins were not detected at the Lake Erie public water system intakes.
When blooms are more dispersed throughout the water column, and not concentrated in surface scums, intake toxin levels can be higher. For example, when the picture in Figure 2 was taken at Maumee Bay State Park in 2011, the cyanobacteria were dispersed throughout the water column, which resulted in a bloom that did not appear severe visually. However, the microcystin concentrations at the public water system intake exceeded 5.0 ug/L. It should be noted that the toxin concentrations at the beach were also high, with microcystin levels exceeding 100 ug/L.
|Figure 1. HAB at Lake Erie with no toxins detected at the intakes (2011).|
|Figure 2. HAB at Maumee Bay State Park with a toxin concentration of greater than 5.0 ug/L at the intake (2011).|
Laboratory and Analysis
Laboratory Contact List
- Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Reports for microcystin test kits
- Algal Toxin Analysis Options
- Includes examples of both laboratories and rapid field test kits
- List of Toxin Producing Cyanobacteria
- This list includes some genera of cyanobacteria known to produce toxins
- Fluorometers and Datasondes for Cyanobacteria
- Information and contacts of the types of meters and sondes available
Analytical Methods for Cyanotoxins *METHOD UPDATE NEEDED
- Ohio EPA Total (Extracellular and Intracellular) Saxitoxin by ELISA Analytical Methodology (Effective Nov 2016)
- Ohio EPA Total (Extracellular and Intracellular) Microcystins - ADDA by ELISA Analytical Methodology (Revised July 2018)
- Ohio EPA DES 705.0, Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) for Determination of Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxin-Producing Genes Analytical Methodology
Lab Techniques for Detecting Microcystins in Water Using Enzyme-Linked Immunsorbent Assay (ELISA)
This video demonstrates how to measure a particular group of toxins following the Ohio EPA Total Microcystin Analytical Methodology using an ADDA-ELISA kit.
General HAB rules (UPDATES NEEDED)
- PWS HAB Impact Survey 2020
- HAB Rules Outreach Slides
- HAB Rules Outreach Webinar Recording
- Overview of Public Water System Harmful Algal Blooms Rules - Questions and Answers
Information for Partner Agencies
- Summary of Ohio's new HAB Rules and Drinking Water Response Strategy for Health Departments
- State of Ohio Harmful Algal Bloom Seminar for Local Partners
To learn more about HABs, check out the list of key references below or visit ohioalgaeinfo.com.
Ohio HAB Information
- HAB Be Aware Brochure
- HABs in Ohio Waters Brochure
- HABs in Ohio Waters Poster
- Algaecide Application Fact Sheet (Ohio EPA)
- Reference for public water systems interested in applying algaecides to their reservoirs
- Algae in Ponds Fact Sheet (Ohio Department of Health)
- Cyanobacteria Fact Sheet (Ohio Department of Health)
- Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins: Information for Drinking Water Systems (U.S. EPA)
- Distribution System Monitoring Fact Sheet (Ohio EPA)
- Generalized Cyanotoxin Treatment Optimization Recommendations (Ohio EPA)
- Impacts of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms (U.S. EPA)
- Public Water System Harmful Algal Bloom Response Strategy (2020)
- Ohio HAB Response Strategy for Recreational Waters
- Ohio Algae Information for Recreational Waters
- Algal Toxin Analysis Options
- ODH Public Health Guidance
U.S. and World HAB Information
- Recommendations for Public Water Systems to Manage Cyanotoxins in Drinking Water
- Drinking Water Standards and Regulatory Support for Microbiological Contaminants
- Harmful Algal Blooms and Cyanobacteria
- Harmful Algal Blooms and Drinking Water Treatment
World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Health Organization home page
- WHO, 1999. Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water: A Guide to their Public Health Consequences, Monitoring and Management
- WHO, 2003. Guidelines for Safe Recreational Water Environments, Vol. 1, Coastal and Fresh Water
- WHO, 2004. Microcystin LR in Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, Chemical
U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Geological Survey Kansas Algal Toxins Research Team
- Graham, J, Loftin, K., Meyer, M., Ziegler, A., 2010. Cyanotoxin Mixtures and Taste-and-Odor Compounds in Cyanobacterial Blooms from the Midwestern United States, Environmental Science and Technology
- Graham, J., Loftin, K., Ziegler, A., and Meyer, M., 2008. Guidelines for design and sampling for cyanobacterial toxin and taste-and-odor studies in lakes and reservoirs, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5038
Water Research Foundation
- Water Research Foundation home page
- Algae: Source to Treatment (M57), 2010
- Removal of Algal Toxins From Drinking Water Using Ozone and GAC, 2002
- Reservoir Management Strategies for Control and Degradation of Algal Toxins, 2009
- Early Warning and Management of Surface Water Taste & Odor Events, AwwaRF, 2006
- Identification of Algae in Water Supplies (CD-ROM), AWWA, 2001
Funding Opportunities for Infrastructure Improvements for HABs
Public Water Systems
Community water systems, publicly or privately owned, that operate surface water treatment systems are eligible for the HAB-discounted interest rate under the Water Supply Revolving Loan Account (WSRLA) program. Eligible projects include treatment system components for HAB treatment, interconnections with other public water systems, elevated storage and development of improved source waters. Nominations for design, and/or construction projects that are directly related to addressing issues from harmful algal blooms (HAB) do not have a deadline and can be submitted to Ohio EPA at any time during the program year.
For more information, please review the instructions for completing the WSRLA HAB nomination form, available on the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance webpage.
WPCLF Nutrient Reduction Discount
In response to harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their potential effect on water resources and the raw water supply for drinking water systems, Ohio EPA made $100 million available at a 0% interest rate through the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 for equipment to reduce phosphorus and other nutrients. In 2018, Ohio EPA is offering $50 million at a 0% interest rate for these types of projects. The discounted rate will be available for the portion of the project directly attributed to the nutrient reduction. Standard, below-market interest rate loan funds will be offered for the balance of a proposed project. Ohio EPA will accept nutrient reduction discount (NRD) project nominations for planning, design or construction projects throughout the program year. Applicants who nominated projects for NRD funding in 2017, but did not proceed with projects, and subsequently provided updated schedules during the nomination period to Ohio EPA, will be grandfathered into the 2018 program.
For more information, please review the nutrient reduction guidance and addendum, available on the Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance webpage.
Please contact your district HAB coordinator with any questions. To find your district office, please visit our district office webpage.
|Position||Name and Email||Phone|
|Section Manager||Colin White||614-644-2759|
|State HAB Specialist||Vacant|
|HAB Compliance||Callie Nauman||614-644-2756|
|Central District||Jodi Elam||614-369-3817|
|Northeast District||Chris Maslo||330-963-1164|
|Northwest District||Benjamin Sloan||419-419-3718|
|Southeast District||Emily Deshaies||740-380-5253|
|Southwest District||Brian Chitti||937-204-1199|