Great Lakes Commissioners from the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces today endorsed a plan to reduce nutrient loadings and diminish problems like harmful algal blooms, toxic cyanobacteria, anoxic zones and other problems in Lake Erie. A joint action plan developed by the Commission’s Lake Erie Nutrient Targets (LENT) Working Group proposes phosphorus reduction targets and a set of 10 steps to achieve the targets.
To achieve the goal of eliminating nuisance and harmful algal blooms and minimizing hypoxia, the action plan sets a target of reducing phosphorus loads into western and central Lake Erie by 40 percent (from 2008 levels) by 2025. The plan proposes an interim phosphorus reduction target of 20 percent by 2020. The interim target is intended to focus and support early actions as the states and province work toward the longer term reduction target.
“Excessive phosphorus in Lake Erie creates potential threats to drinking water and other issues that affect all of our states and Ontario,” said Jon Allan, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes. “Protecting Lake Erie is an imperative for this and future generations and these goals and steps will help drive early action as we continue to invest, monitor and adapt as we learn.”
“The 40 percent reduction target as first described in the 2012 Ohio Phosphorus Task Force Report, timelines and action steps in the LENT plan are well aligned with Ohio’s existing policies and investments, as well as through the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement between Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, and the U.S. and Canada through Annex 4 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” said Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
“Protecting the Great Lakes is a priority for Ontario. We will continue to work collaboratively with all our partners and stakeholders to help reduce algal blooms in Lake Erie, to help restore it for this and future generations,” said Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
“This Joint Action Plan offers a common roadmap for the Lake Erie states and Ontario to help solve the critical problems facing Lake Erie,” said Tim Bruno, chief of the Office of the Great Lakes with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “The 10 joint actions outlined in the plan will lead to significant progress in achieving the goal of a healthy Lake Erie.”
The Great Lakes Commission endorsed the plan and commended the working group in a resolution adopted today at the Commission’s annual meeting in Chicago.
The final plan calls for the following 10 actions:
Reduce nutrient applications on frozen or snow-covered ground
Adopt 4R’s Nutrient Stewardship Certification or similar programs
Reduce total phosphorus from seven key U.S. municipal dischargers
Encourage investments in green infrastructure
Reduce open-water disposal of dredged material
Pilot innovative performance-based nutrient reduction projects
Phase out residential phosphorus fertilizer applications within five years
Target conservation at the watershed scale
Validate or refine the reduction targets and timelines using an adaptive approach
Develop an integrated monitoring, modeling, tracking and reporting network for Lake Erie
The Joint Action Plan is available at glc.org/projects/water-quality/lent.