Lake Erie algal bloom cleanup falling short of 40 percent phosphorus reduction goal

Updated on October 11, 2017 at 11:42 AM
Posted on October 10, 2017 at 4:11 PM
By James F. McCarty, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Approaching the end of another summer marked by a substantial algal bloom in Lake Erie’s western basin, environmental and conservation groups released separate reports Tuesday that came to the same conclusion:

Ohio, Michigan and Ontario are falling far short in their efforts to reduce and eliminate the seasonal menace.

“The longer we wait to start putting algae-causing, pollution-reduction measures into practice, the worse the problems will become,” said Kristy Meyer, vice president of policy for the Ohio Environmental Council.

Meyer was responding to a new report released Tuesday, “Rescuing Lake Erie: An Assessment of Progress,” that examines how Ohio, Michigan and Ontario are responding to the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement they signed two years ago.

The agreement committed the states and Canadian province to reduce phosphorus discharges by 40 percent between 2015 and 2025. In 2008, Ohio released 1,400 metric tons of phosphorus into Lake Erie. A 40 percent reduction would be about 860 metric tons of phosphorus, or roughly the same amount as released in 2010. Gov. John Kasich and the other group leaders are scheduled to meet next week at the 2017 Leadership Summit in Detroit.

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Miles of Algae Covering Lake Erie


A potentially harmful algae bloom covered more than 700 square miles in the western basin of Lake Erie last week, turning the lake bright green and alarming residents and local officials.

Source: Landsat 8

Scientists say that algae blooms have been a growing problem for Lake Erie since the 2000s, mostly because of the extensive use of fertilizer on the region’s farmland.

The algae blooms contain cyanobacteria, which, under certain conditions, can produce toxins that contaminate drinking water and cause harm to the local ecosystem.

During last week’s bloom, the amount of toxins in the algae remained low at the intake points where towns draw water from the lake, according to officials.

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