A 100-page report released Thursday by a U.S.-Canadian agency says water quality in Lake Erie has been in decline for a decade, largely due to farm runoff, and government action is needed to correct problems in the “severely threatened” lake.
Solutions could include new restrictions on farms in the lake’s watershed, the Detroit News reports. The report from the International Joint Commission cited nutrient overloading and other factors as causes in the decline of water quality.
“Lake Erie is once again severely threatened...,” the report reads. “The recent accelerating decline of this lake, manifested as impaired water quality, massive, summer-long algal blooms, hypoxia and fish kills, has focused bi-national attention on the need for urgent actions to reduce external inputs of phosphorus.
“While Lake Erie’s health suffers from multiple stressors, the rising proportion of dissolved phosphorus is seen as the primary cause of this decline.”
A popular recreation spot in warm-weather months, Lake Erie has been plagued by massive green algae blooms caused by nutrients, such as phosphorous, which are often found in farm chemicals.
Lana Pollack, the U.S. chair of the ICJ, said “it’s time for government at all levels to put the lake on a diet by setting targets and achieving real reductions in nutrient loads.”
The binational ICJ was created more than a century ago to settle disputes between the United States and Canada over management of the Great Lakes and other boundary waters.