The DEQ recently announced Michigan’s draft plan to reduce phosphorus inputs to Lake Erie by 40 percent.
Gov. Rick Snyder in June signed the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement with Premier Kathleen Wynne of Ontario and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor of Ohio, agreeing to work to achieve a 40 percent total load reduction in the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 2025. The agreement uses phosphorus loading data from 2008 as its baseline.
Michigan’s plan focuses on reducing phosphorus to the Detroit River, the River Raisin and the state’s portion of the Maumee River basin. To achieve this goal, Michigan will:
• Maintain the reductions achieved in discharges from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department as a result of tightened permit limits.
• Modify the permit limits for the Wayne County Downriver Wastewater Treatment Plan to establish limits consistent with limits at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
• Develop a specific plan to achieve the target reduction in the Maumee River basin, working in close partnership with Indiana and Ohio.
• Help develop a better understanding of harmful algal blooms’ presence, timing and cause in Michigan waters, including the Great Lakes.
• Help develop a better understanding of the role of invasive mussels in causing Lake Erie algae blooms as well as the effects of potential invasive mussel controls.
• Understand the specifics of what has caused a 36 percent reduction in phosphorus from the River Raisin since 2008 and continue to reduce nutrient loads that can contribute to site-specific or seasonal water quality fluctuations.
This plan is not Michigan’s first effort to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Erie. Michigan has pursued aggressive phosphorus reductions since the 1960s, when Lake Erie was declared dead. Efforts have focused particularly on the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which is by far the largest point of discharge to the lake. In 2012, Michigan also implemented a statewide residential fertilizer phosphorus ban.
To measure the success of its plan, Michigan will continue to monitor phosphorus loading to the Detroit River, the River Raisin and the Maumee River basin, and report results annually.
The DEQ is accepting public comment about the Michigan Implementation Plan for the Western Lake Erie Basin Collaborative until Dec. 7. Comments can be submitted to Laura Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the DEQ, P.O. Box 30458, Lansing, Mich. 48909-7958.
The DEQ also will hold a public meeting about the plan from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Monroe Middle School Auditorium, 503 Washington St. in Monroe.
The full draft plan is available at www.michigan.gov/wrd, under “What’s New.”