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Unfriendly Blooms: How Harmful Algal Blooms Threaten Life and the Economy

April 18, 2017

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been reported in every State and are increasingly affecting coastal, Great Lakes, and inland communities and economies. 

Unfriendly Flyer for briefing on Blooms: How Harmful Algal Blooms Threaten Life and the Economy
(Public domain.)

Welcome to the 2017 Briefing Series for Members of Congress, staff, and the public

First in the 2017 series

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been reported in every State and are increasingly affecting coastal, Great Lakes, and inland communities and economies. The toxins produced by HABs threaten human and animal health, and can cripple local and regional economies by contaminating drinking water for humans and livestock, closing fisheries, repelling tourists, and lowering property values. 

Come learn how the USGS and its partners are working to understand and clear the murky waters. Question and answer section to follow the presentations.

Date: April 4, 2017
Time: 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM



Robert Renner
Water Research Foundation


Jennifer Graham
U.S. Geological Survey

Quay Dortch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Keith Cartnick
SUEZ North America


Speaker Biographies:

Robert Renner
Mr. Renner is the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization that sponsors research supporting the water community by cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental, and economic needs. With over 1,000 subscriber members in the U.S. and abroad, the Foundation has funded and managed more than 1,400 research projects valued at more than $500 million.

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2005, Renner was the executive director of the International Society of Automation and served as deputy executive director of the American Water Works Association. He has more than 20 years of experience as a consultant optimizing water treatment plant performance.

Mr. Renner holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in sanitary engineering from South Dakota State University. He is a licensed professional engineer in both Colorado and Minnesota, and is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.


Jennifer Graham
Dr. Graham is a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. She has worked for the USGS in Lawrence, Kansas since 2005. She is a nationally recognized expert in cyanobacteria and associated nuisance compounds.

Dr. Graham has been exploring the intersection between human activities and aquatic ecosystems for 20 years. For the past 17 years she has been researching the environmental factors that can give rise to cyanotoxins in the United States for both small and large watersheds. She received her PhD from the University of Missouri in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences.


Quay Dortch
Dr. Dortch currently manages two National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) programs that provide federal funding for research on the causes, impacts, prevention, control, and mitigation of harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Prior to coming to NOAA in 2003 she was a faculty member at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium where she conducted research on HABs and hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. From 1981 to 1986 she was a Research Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Oceanography, M.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University, and B.A. in Chemistry from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.


Keith Cartnick
Mr. Cartnick is the Senior Director of Water Quality and Compliance at SUEZ. He is responsible for over 70 water and wastewater facilities throughout the U.S. on issues related to drinking water quality, regulations and environmental compliance.

He has 30 years of experience in the environmental field, including compliance with drinking water regulations, optimization of water treatment plant and distribution system operations to improve water quality, and oversight of United Water’s Haworth Drinking Water Laboratory. He has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and American Water Works Association on matters associated with safe drinking water.

Mr. Cartnick has his M.S. in Environmental Science, from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and his B.S. in Chemistry from Fairleigh Dickinson University.