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Watershed Department broadens testing

Monday, June 8, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

Brent Bellinger, senior environmental scientist for Austin’s Watershed Protection Department, updated the city’s Environmental Board on the ways his team is monitoring water quality in Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin. At the board’s regular June 3 meeting, Bellinger said his team is using more data-centric methods and broadening the scope of  material monitored in the annual water quality report, known as the Austin Lake Index. Bellinger said the city currently has five species cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, that are known to produce toxins harmful to humans but that the city does not test for in the lakes. The algae played a role in a 2014 Lake Erie situation, in which large algae blooms caused water quality to dip so low that residents were prohibited from drinking or swimming in Erie-based water. Bellinger was an environmental scientist in the area when this occurred.

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