U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms

Sponsored by: Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council

Archived: Thursday, April 29, 2021
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The Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms (HCBs) training reviews key information found in the ITRC Guidance Document, Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic, photosynthetic organisms that occur naturally in all aquatic systems but most often in freshwater systems. Under certain conditions, cyanobacteria can multiply and become very abundant, discoloring the water throughout a water body or accumulating at the surface. These occurrences are known as blooms. Cyanobacteria may produce potent toxins (cyanotoxins) that pose a threat to human health. They can also harm wildlife and domestic animals, aquatic ecosystems, and local economies by disrupting drinking water systems and source waters, recreational uses, commercial and recreational fishing, and property values. It is likely that continued population growth, land use change, increases in nutrient inputs to our waterways, and the warming climate will favor proliferation of these problematic species. Providing a range of practical approaches to minimize these blooms and their likely societal and wildlife effects is critical to our future vitality, health, and economic prosperity.

The Harmful Cyanobacteria Bloom training provides an overview of cyanobacteria and their management, covering five sections from the ITRC guidance document:

  • Introduction to the Cyanobacteria (Section 3)
  • Monitoring (Section 4)
  • Communication and Response Planning (Section 5)
  • Management and Control (Section 6)
  • Nutrient Management (Section 7)

After the five-part Strategies for Preventing and Managing Harmful Cyanobacteria Blooms training, you should understand:
  • The basic ecology and physiology of cyanobacteria, and the harmful effects they have on health, the environment, and local economies
  • Common approaches to monitoring for cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins, and how to build a monitoring program
  • The importance of good communication and coordinated response during cyanobacteria blooms, and the elements of a good response plan
  • Available options for in-lake management and control of cyanobacteria blooms
  • Nutrient management options to reduce the likelihood of cyanobacteria blooms in your water body

We encourage you to use the ITRC HCB Resources (HCB-1) and the recorded training to learn about cyanobacteria, monitoring approaches, management of active blooms, and prevention of blooms in the future. For regulators and other government agency staff, these materials present the current state of the science on cyanobacteria and approaches to manage and reduce the occurrence of blooms. We share examples and resources from across the country that can help you develop approaches of your own. While the training makes every effort to keep the information accessible to a wide audience, it is assumed that the participants will have some basic technical understanding of biology, lake management, chemistry, and environmental sciences. As with other emerging concerns, our understanding of harmful cyanobacteria blooms continues to advance. These trainings help you build cyanobacteria response plans now and point you to resources that will keep you up to date in the future.

Accessibility, Recording, and Content Disclaimer

Rehabilitation Act Notice for Reasonable Accommodation

It is EPA's policy to make reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities wishing to participate in the agency's programs and activities, pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 791. Any request for accommodation should be made to ITRC Training Program at 202-266-4932 or, preferably one week or more in advance of the webinar, so that EPA will have sufficient time to process the request. EPA would welcome specific recommendations from requestors specifying the nature or type of accommodation needed. Please note that CLU-IN provides both alternate phone call-in options and closed captioning for all webinars, and requests for these specific accommodations are not necessary.

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Content Disclaimer

This webinar is intended solely to provide information to the public. The views and opinions expressed as part of this webinar do not necessarily state or reflect those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is not intended, nor can it be relied upon, to create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation with the United States, or to endorse the use of products or services provided by specific vendors. With respect to this webinar, neither the United States Government nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights.


A photograph of Gina LaLiberteGina LaLiberte, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (
Gina LaLiberte leads response and communication on cyanobacterial issues as the Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She has a BS in Biology and a MS in Resource Ecology Management from the University of Michigan. She has studied algae for over 25 years.

A photograph of Angela ShambaughAngela Shambaugh, Retired (
Angela Shambaugh is an aquatic biologist, recently retired from the Lakes and Ponds Program (Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation). Since moving to Vermont in 1986, she has been working in the fields of water quality and phytoplankton ecology for private consultants, the University of Vermont, and the State. In those roles, she participated in the development of a cyanobacteria monitoring protocol for Lake Champlain, one of the largest physically diverse lakes in the northeastern US. The initial monitoring program got underway in 2002 and, in its current form, is used for all water bodies in Vermont. Aspects of it have been adopted by other states in the region. Angela currently serves as co-chair of the North American Lake Management Society's Inland HABs Committee.

A photograph of Christine OsborneChristine Osborne, Utah Department of Environmental Quality (
Christine Osborne is an environmental planner and NEPA coordinator with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Water Quality (UT DWQ) in the Watershed Protection Section. She is the Communication Lead for the San Juan Watershed Program, coordinates NEPA comments from UT DWQ on federal projects, and is a member of the Integrated Report team. Christine co-presented Utah DEQ's HABs communication strategy in a 2018 webinar for the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and has presented on risk communication for the past two years at the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute Conference and Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium. She served as a co-chair of the ITRC HCB Risk Communication subgroup.

A photograph of Elizabeth Fabri SmithElizabeth Fabri Smith, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (
Elizabeth Smith has been at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since 2005. She oversees several programs in Bureau of Water, including Harmful Algal Bloom Response, Stream Probabilistic Monitoring, and Use Attainability Assessment. Smith currently serves as the EPA Region 7 state representative to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. She holds a BS in Biology and a PhD in Entomology from University of Kansas

A photograph of Ben HolcombBen Holcomb, Utah Department of Environmental Quality (
Ben Holcomb works for the Utah Division of Water Quality (UT DWQ) where he manages the Water Quality Standards and Technical Services Section. He has worked at UT DWQ for 12 years and his past work includes salmon restoration, water quality management, and tribal sovereignty in the Pacific NW. He received a B.S. in Environmental Science from Allegheny College, Pennsylvania and a M.S. in Aquatic Ecology from South Dakota State University.


Nicole Henderson, ITRC Contractor (

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If you have a suggested topic or idea for a future CLU-IN internet seminar, please contact:

Jean Balent
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: 202-566-0832 | Email:
Michael Adam
Technology Integration and Information Branch

PH: 202-566-0875 | Email: