Cassie Kelly, June 6, 2019
Toledo, OH—Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, released their latest projection for this summer’s algal bloom in the western Lake Erie basin. The projection indicated a severe algal bloom, raising concerns for the health of the lake, our economy, and those communities who depend on Lake Erie for drinking water, tourism, fishing, or other recreational activities.
The annual algal projections signify the beginning of another season of Lake Erie algal blooms that impact a critical ecosystem important for the outdoor economy of boating, fishing, and tourism as well as a drinking water source for millions of people. This projection further highlights the urgency for concrete actions to reduce phosphorus loading. We need all local, state, provincial, and federal governments and stakeholders on both sides of the border to offer solutions to meet the binational 40 percent phosphorus reduction goal adopted as part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
“Harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie have contaminated drinking water, closed beaches, and hurt our fishing and tourism industries,” said Nick Mandros, Northwest Regional Director for the Ohio Environmental Council. “NOAA’s early projection reminds us that Lake Erie’s algae problem has not gone away and that we can’t just hope for dry springs as a solution.“
The severity and frequency of the blooms has already led to a regional agreement between U.S. governors in Ohio, Michigan and the Canadian Premier of Ontario to reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing into the lake by 40 percent by 2025. Phosphorus is the main nutrient fueling the growth of harmful algae. In the Maumee River watershed the largest source of phosphorus comes from land practices like agricultural production when heavy rains and spring thaw wash nutrients and sediments into local streams and rivers that feed the lake.
“We are encouraged by the DeWine Administration’s and Ohio General Assembly’s work to establish funding mechanisms, which will need to be tied to accountability measures,” said Mandros “It will take more than funding to adequately scale up best management practices in the Maumee River watershed.”