Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020PA342B

Integrating Water Quality and Cyanotoxin Production to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

Institute: Pennsylvania
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $12,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $24,000

Principal Investigators: Sarah Princiotta

Abstract: Water managers and citizens of the Pocono region have expressed concerns about the environmental implications of cyanobacteria blooms. Despite the biological, economic, and public health risks associated with blooms of potentially toxic cyanobacteria, the state of Pennsylvania does not synchronize regulation nor monitoring of such events. Although excessive nutrient loading can stimulate a bloom, or prolong its dominance in a waterbody, many other factors make this water quality issue complex and unpredictable. There is a critical knowledge gap concerning the relation between phytoplankton community structure with cyanobacteria abundance, diversity, and cyanotoxin production. This work will leverage a regional limnological sampling program to address drivers of toxin production associated with blooms of cyanobacteria. Cyanotoxin production will be assessed against various water quality and microbial parameters to produce data that can be applied to water resource management plans across the commonwealth. A biological field station will serve as the educational hub, where results are communicated through public workshops and K-12 programming. Results of this work are crucial for improved management of freshwater resources. Resulting data will better equip scientists and managers to “face tomorrow’s challenges†of a pressing issue in water quality.