Letter of Intent for the
10th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the US

Toledo, Ohio


Local Organizing Committee

Timothy Davis, Mike McKay, George Bullerjahn (Bowling Green State University), Tom Bridgeman (University of Toledo)


We propose to hold the 10th Symposium on Harmful Algae in the U.S. in Toledo, OH. Toledo is home to 280,000 residents and serves as an important Great Lakes port situated on the mouth of the Maumee River along Lake Erie’s western basin. Located less than an hour from Detroit, the city is easily accessible by 2 major airports in the area (Detroit Metro, Toledo Express) with three additional airports (Flint, MI, Cleveland, OH, Lansing, MI) located less than 2 h drive. There are plenty of transportation options including shuttles, taxicabs and rental cars in the area.

As a port city, Toledo’s history is tightly linked to the Great Lakes. Its location as a rail hub between New York and Chicago coupled with its location on Lake Erie helped Toledo achieve status as an important manufacturing center during the first half of the 20th century. Nicknamed “The Glass City” in recognition of its long history of glass manufacturing, Toledo is also home to Jeep and is attracting investment in the growing solar energy sector.

Reflecting its maritime heritage, Toledo is home to the National Museum of the Great Lakes (http://www.inlandseas.org/). Other cultural attractions include the internationally recognized Toledo Museum of Art (http://www.toledomuseum.org/), a nationally ranked zoo and aquarium (https://www.toledozoo.org/) and acclaimed minor-league baseball and ice hockey franchises, the Toledo Mud Hens and the Toledo Walleye.

Of relevance to the U.S. HABs community, Toledo gained national and international notoriety as a result of the 2014 Toledo Water Crisis.  In early August 2014, the municipality issued a ‘do not drink’ advisory on their water supply directly affecting over 400,000 residential customers and hundreds of businesses for just over two days. This order was attributable to levels of microcystins, potent liver toxins, which exceeded the 1 µg L-1 WHO advisory guideline value for finished drinking water. This contaminated drinking water was caused by a large bloom of cyanobacteria in the western basin of Lake Erie that was constrained by prevailing winds to the region around the city of Toledo’s water intake. Local businesses and industries were forced to purge water systems and other costly precautions in the following weeks, resulting in at least $65 million in related economic losses.  Furthermore, this event highlighted the threat that HABs pose on human health and brought this important national issue back into the focus of Federal, State and local leaders.  As many studies link increasing severity of HABs to a warming climate and changing precipitation patterns, the threat posed by these events will only grow across the marine- freshwater continuum if the status quo remains.  Indeed, since 2010, western Lake Erie has experienced the two largest blooms on record (2011 and 2015) and the west coast of the US experienced a record setting HAB in July 2015.  It is important to come together as a community and build collaborations that span marine, estuarine and freshwater environments to better understand the impacts of HABs on human, animal and economic health from our inland lakes to coastal oceans.


November 2019 (tentatively November 4th to 8th, 2019 with opportunity for pre-symposium workshops on Nov 2-3, 2019)


Understanding HABs across the marine-freshwater continuum

Potential participating or collaborating organizations 

There are a number of Great Lakes-based organizations committed to participate and to help support the conference. Letters of support are included from Ohio Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant, Wisconsin DNR and the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR). Other agencies have expressed verbal support which we expect to formalize in the coming months.

Venue description

The venue for the symposium will be the SeaGate Centre (http://www.toledo-seagate.com/), a performing arts and convention center located in downtown Toledo. The downtown area has witnessed a re-birth in recent years with construction of a new minor league ball park and an 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena adjacent to SeaGate drawing new retail, restaurants and entertainment venues. With over 3 million annual visitors, an historic art community and over 70 restaurants and bars, downtown is the pulse of the Glass City. Opened in 1987, the SeaGate Convention Centre features 25 meeting rooms accommodating up to 3,000 delegates and has over 75,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space.

The symposium will be held in the 25,000 square foot Hall C accommodating up to 600 delegates. The Hall can be split into two sections using a 100 ft acoustical drape with each section accommodating 300 delegates to run two concurrent sections. We will also have access to four breakout rooms with capacity between 16-180 delegates per room as well as registration facilities and exhibitor and poster space within the Centre. The budget includes audio/visual and IT support through the entirety of the symposium.

There are 800 guest rooms either attached (Park Inn by Radisson Toledo) or within a two block radius of the facility (Renaissance Toledo Downtown). November room rates presently start at $99 making this an affordable option. There are 375 parking spaces below the Convention Centre and another 220 spaces in surface lots. There are almost 6000 spaces within easy walking distance of the Centre.

An opening reception will be held Sunday, Nov 3rd at the SeaGate Centre. Schedule permitting, the venue operators have offered our use of the Club Level Lounge at the adjacent Huntington Center multi- purpose arena. The lounge occupies the entire end of the arena on the club level and can accommodate receptions for up to 600 people. In addition to the opening reception, a mid-week evening reception will be held at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.  Shuttle service will be provided to delegates attending. The conference banquet will be held at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company (http://www.mbaybrew.com/) within walking distance of the conference venue. The MBBC warehouse can accommodate 230 for a sit-down banquet.