NEW Water partners with NASA to research blue-green algae

GREEN BAY, Wis (WBAY) - Members of NEW Water, which manages Green Bay's sewage district, went out on the Bay of Green Bay to show off the result of their latest partnership.

"Oh, it's very exciting to participate with NASA. I have a smile on my face when we talk about it,” said NEW Water Executive Director Tom Sigmund.

NEW Water announced its involvement in NASA's aquatic monitoring program Thursday morning. It will help provide research on cyanobacteria, more commonly called blue-green algae.

NASA principal investigator Dr. Nima Pahlevan says last year Green Bay had significant levels of the bacteria, making NEW Water a logical partner.

"The initiative that we have with you in the lower Green Bay area, that potentially helps to further research towards or predicting cyanobacteria blooms, their extent and their intensity in the future,” said Pahlevan.

NEW Water will help NASA monitor the SeaPRISIM device that now sits on a monitoring station in the bay.

By recording the water's color, it allows NASA satellites to more accurately record the location and amount of blue-green algae.

“The satellites can see a lot of area that we can't get to,” said Sigmund.

Sigmund says the algae is an ongoing issue. “It's toxic to animals, it's toxic to humans."

But he hopes their new vantage point will help them keep ahead of it.

“To be able to predict, to be able to understand and possibly issue a beach closing sooner than we might have if we were just collecting the information here on the ground,” said Sigmund.

Sigmund believes with the runoff the area has experienced so far this spring, blue-green algae will likely appear again this year.

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