2013 Statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Program

In May 2013, an Illinois Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Program was initiated. The program consists of two primary components: an “Event Response” component, and a “Pilot Survey” component. The primary goal of the overall program is to protect public health and safety for drinking water and recreational uses. Two primary objectives exist, including (1) the collection, analysis, and reporting of microcystin concentrations to local water-management authorities for their potential use to issue public-health advice for recreational or drinking-water uses, and (2) the investigation of predictive relationships between microcystin, nutrient, and chlorophyll-a concentrations in selected eutrophic or hypereutrophic (nutrient-rich) lakes or streams.

The Event Response Component

The Event Response component includes an investigation (as resources allow) of credible reports of a HAB event by Illinois EPA professional field staff, Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program statewide or regional coordinators, or other Illinois EPA-approved designated party. A credible report of a HAB event includes written and pictorial information contained within a properly submitted Bloom Report Form. Anyone can complete and submit to the Agency a Bloom Report Form for review by Illinois EPA professional staff.

If Illinois EPA professional staff deem appropriate, a HAB responder will be sent to the site of the HAB event to collect water samples for microcystin analysis. Water samples collected will be analyzed within 24-36 hours of collection using microcystin test kits that provide qualitative results in one of three concentration ranges (<1.0, > 1.0 and < 10, and >10 ug/L). A quantitative analysis may also be performed using the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method that will provide a precise numeric result. The reporter of the HAB event and the local lake management entity will be informed immediately should microcytin concentration results approach or exceed 10 ug/L. Follow-up monitoring by the Illinois EPA may occur as professional judgment dictates and staff, laboratory, and financial resources allow.

The Pilot Survey Component consists of two major activities:

  1. Illinois EPA Ambient Lake Monitoring Program Pilot Survey

    Ambient Lake Monitoring Program Pilot Survey sampling will be conducted by Illinois EPA regional field biologists located in Des Plaines, Springfield, and Marion Illinois. Ten significant publicly owned lakes offering multiple lake uses (e.g., recreation, public water supply, aquatic life, and primary contact), representing eutrophic to hypereutrophic conditions, and that have a history of blue-green algae blooms will be selected for the survey. Samples will be collected five times at several monitoring locations in each lake from April through October. Samples will be sent for quantitative analysis by the ELISA method.

  2. Lake County Health Department Inland Lake Beach Pilot Survey

    Sampling for the Lake County Inland Lake Beach pilot survey will be conducted by Lake County Health Department staff. Approximately 30 lake beaches are included in this monitoring effort. Beaches will be selected based on public accessibility and usage, and also based on a history of bloom occurrences. Samples will be collected routinely during the period of Memorial Day through Labor Day on a bi-weekly schedule. Samples will be sent for quantitative analysis by ELISA method.