Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program

Former ES Program Director Continues Work on Toxic Cyanobacteria

Wayne Carmichael, retired Professor of Biological Sciences and director of the ES PhD program from 2003 to 2007, continues to provide advice and training on harmful algae blooms of cyanobacteria (CyanoHABs). While State and local Ohio officials worked to understand and manage toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) this past summer, in Ohio’s Grand Lake, near the cities of Celina and St Marys, see: http://www.dailystandard.com/archive/story_single.php?rec_id=9313, Prof Carmichael was advising groups in Panama, Mexico and Guatemala.

In January he worked on Panama’s Gatun Lake, which forms the water supply for operation of the Panama Canal and for the potable water used by Panama City and its surrounding areas. See: http://www.pancanal.com/esp/cuenca/ and also http://www.pancanal.com/eng/index.html The quality of water in Gatun Lake has remained fairly constant since the lake was formed in 1913. However natural ageing of the lake, continued development in the lake’s watershed and the current expansion project of the Panama Canal contribute to changes in water quality that require new management plans, especially since the occurrence of toxin producing cyanobacteria waterblooms during the dry season of 2006-2007. These waterblooms introduced cyanotoxins into the water supply and also led to a taste and odor episode at the Miraflores Water Treatment Plant. In response, the Water Division within the Autoridad del Canal de Panama (ACP) initiated a project with Prof. Carmichael. Its overall objective was to complete an evaluation of existing ACP programs and to present action plans for responding to cyanobacteria events. Information gathered from an onsite visit in January 2010, plus published reports on Gatun Lake and literature material on cyanobacteria and their harmful waterblooms were used as the basis for his report.

In June he gave a two day workshop, plus a plenary address to participants at the International Symposium of Fungal and Algal toxins for Industry held in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Participants included students and public health officials from Mexico, Columbia, Argentina and Peru.

And finally in September/October he gave lectures and a half-day training session to participants at the first Guatemalan symposium on cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins regarding their countries water supplies, held in Guatemala City. Guatemala’s water quality problems were focused on Lake Atitlan a once pristine volcanic caldera lake, see: http://mail.guatemala-times.com/component/content/article/1487.html

For 2011 Prof. Carmichael is planning a two week training program on toxic cyanobacteria for both Panama and Guatemala.