There are a number of ways to cut down on the issues with the toxic blooms. Specific to the Toledo area, farmers can attempt better efficiency with their fertilizer usage.
We must make an effort to prevent nutrient pollution from getting into Lake Erie.
- Be careful with dredging. While it may be necessary in such a small lake, it need not be carelessly. Dredging can pull settled nutrients from the bottom, as well as invasive mussels species which may then spread further across the lake. Sediments may also contain heavy metals, which can poison the waters especially in low-oxygen areas.
- Reducing the spread of invasive Zebra and Quagga mussels, as well as other non-native species, can help the health of the lake as well.
- Preservation of natural wetlands, as well as the creation of buffers, can help keep excess water and nutrients out of the lake.
- Big farms in particular should improve “best management” techniques; use cover crops. (See our page on Agriculture)
- Industries should reduce thermal pollution as well as fossil fuel use.
- Water treatment plants should continue to improve to a point where even unexpected contaminants can be handled efficiently.
- Wastewater treatment plants, especially in Canada, should continue to improve as well to keep as many pollutants as possible out of the waters.
The following 5 minute video promotes steps we can all take to reduce the problems contributing to blue-green algae; produced by the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee.
List of little things:
- Generally being environmentally friendly can help. Don’t waste electricity, and don’t use a car if you don’t need to (bike, carpool, use public transportation, or walk). These small things can help reduce the use of fossil fuels, which also have an effect on the waters.
- Homeowners with lawns and gardens should be cautious with water use and plant native species when possible. Runoff from lawns and gardens, especially runoff containing animal waste or plant fertilizers, can get into the sewers and increase chances of overflow. While any overflow can be bad for the lake, overflow containing excess fertilizers that may be needed to grow non-native plants is even worse.
- Residents, facilities, and industry should be cautious of what goes down drains. Fats, Oils and Grease (or FOG for short) can stick to pipes and clog them and cause overflows, not only into the waterways but they can also cause backups that damage parks, yards and other places inside civilization.
- Septic tanks need to be properly taken care of, especially in rural areas and where water treatment is less sophisticated. For more information on, see the EPA’s page on Septic Systems
- Detergents, such as those used in laundry, may contain phosphates as well, and though banned in many places (like Ohio, Michigan and Canada) they are still legal in others and users should be cautious of such products (while they may do a better job, they are much worse for the environment.)
For more info on how you can help, check out the following sites:
EPA: What you can do in your home. (US) Info about cleaning supplies, pet waste, septic systems, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and vehicles
EPA Ohio: Make a difference. (US) Info about how to reduce, reuse, & recycle; prevent pollution, use less toxic products, conserve energy & water, compost, practice green landscaping, reduce storm water pollution and runoff, maintain your vehicle, teach kids about the environment, and improve air quality
SDWF: Water pollution. (CA) General info about pollution types, sources, impacts and prevention, as well as data on water pollution in Canada