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The Great Lakes need your help to tell one of the most urgent untold stories.

Algae blooms in the Great Lakes may be one of the most significant freshwater challenges in the nation. With your photos and stories, you can make a difference.

On September 4, 2013, Henry Biggert, the superintendent of the Carroll Water and Sewer District, near Toledo, Ohio, got the first clue that he could have a public health crisis on his hands. An analysis of water samples taken from Lake Erie, the district’s only water source, showed that levels of a toxin released by algal blooms had spiked.

In five years of voluntarily testing for the toxin, Biggert and his staff had never seen anything like it. Levels of the toxin in Carroll Township’s treated drinking water were nearly four times the safety limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Within two hours, Biggert shut down the Carroll Township treatment plant and simultaneously alerted the community’s 2,000 residents not to drink the water. If they did, they might get very sick—become nauseous, vomit, and suffer liver damage.

WHAT WE NEED
Your photos of the Great Lakes — and algae blooms — will help make the challenge real and visible to people around the world.

We’re quickly assembling as many images, from as many sources, as possible.
Pictures of…

• Harmful algal blooms
• Failing municipal water treatment systems and overflows
• Agricultural runoff
• Beach closings
• Other images documenting water pollution sources, causes, and threats to the watershed.

WHO YOU ARE
Great Lakes lovers, researchers, scientists, boaters, fishermen, beach goers, hikers, photographers, bloggers, farmers, engineers. You know who you are.

HOW WE DO IT
In early 2014, Circle of Blue will launch a major story package about algae blooms in the Great Lakes. We are working closely with NASA, NOAA, Google Research, and others to learn more; but it will to be your participation that makes a difference.

HOW TO TAKE PART
Use the form below to submit your images.
Your personal information will remain private. We may wish to contact you for further information or to tell your story.

WHEN
Now through summer 2014
(Our first deadline is January 16, 2014.)

WHO WE ARE
Circle of Blue is the leading news and science organization reporting on water, food and energy around the world. We are based in Traverse City, Mich. and received the 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award for combining trusted journalism, science, data and design to report on the global water crisis.

QUESTIONS
Contact our Great Lakes team here.

Thank you — and happy holidays,

holly jo Sparks
Circle of Blue

photos courtesy of Steve Seilo/Photodynamix (Green Bay) and Tom Archer (Lake Erie fish)