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Researchers creating warning system for toxic algae in lakes

Satellites in space and a robot under Lake Erie’s surface are part of a network of scientific tools trying to keep algae toxins out of drinking water supplies in the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

It’s one of the most wide-ranging freshwater monitoring systems in the U.S., researchers say, and some of its pieces soon will be watching for harmful algae on hundreds of lakes nationwide.

Researchers are creating an early warning system using real-time data from satellites that in recent years have tracked algae bloom hotpots such as Florida’s Lake Okeechobee and the East Coast’s Chesapeake Bay.

The plan is to have it in place within two years so that states in the continental U.S. can be alerted to where toxic algae is appearing before they might detect it on the surface, said Blake Schaeffer, a researcher with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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