Phosphorus Targets Announced for Lake Erie

Phosphorus Targets Announced for Lake Erie

Just in time for summer, as families get ready to hit the beach, Canada and the United States have announced their draft targets for reducing phosphorus loads to combat Lake Erie algal blooms.

Harmful algal blooms have closed beaches, impacted the safety of our drinking water, and threatened the recreational use of our waters and fisheries.  Last year, over half a million residents in  Pelee Island and Toledo, Ohio couldn’t drink, or even use, their water because of a toxic algae bloom.  To help keep our beaches healthy and our drinking water safe, Canada and the US, through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, have released targets that include a 40% reduction in phosphorus loads for the Lake.  Detail on the targets can be found here.

These targets are a key step in the fight to restore the health of Lake Erie and prevent future harmful algal blooms.  Next will be the development of plans to implement the targets, and we hope to see opportunities for broad public input and engagement with the NGO community. If you share our concern about the importance of consultation, you can use the survey tool the governments have provided to tell them you want the opportunity to be involved in the discussions about the formation of implementation plans; where the rubber meets the road for targets!

Meeting these targets will require input from all the sectors impacted by algae.  Fortunately, collaboration around this issue has already begun.  Environmental, conservation, governmental and farm groups in the US and Canada are already meeting and working together to identify a range of solutions to tackle this complex issue.  Freshwater Future Canada is working in partnership with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance and Tides Canada to increase public and NGO engagement around algae, and to bring a variety of perspectives together to develop solutions.  Freshwater Future Canada also partnered with Environmental Defense to release a four-point plan for protecting Lake Erie.

You can help.  If you share our love of Lake Erie, sign up here to stay connected about progress and actions you can take that will benefit not only Lake Erie, but all of the Great Lakes.  We’ll let you know soon about an upcoming webinar that will delve into the details of the new draft targets, and let you know how you can provide your feedback.  Active on social media?  Like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter, for more Great Lakes info!

Photo credit: Tim Archer, University of Michigan