In September 2017, an algal bloom forced the closure of Colchester Beach. (Photo courtesy of the Essex Region Conservation Authority)

ERCA Supports Plan To Clean Up Lake Erie

A plan to clean up Lake Erie by cutting phosphorus in the lake 40% by 2025 is getting a thumbs up from the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

“Our region experiences the impacts of phosphorus and harmful algal blooms more than any other,” says ERCA General Manager Richard Wyma. “Harmful algal blooms can impact human health, pet health, and economic health through lost tourism revenue and increased water treatment costs. They also impact our ability to simply enjoy Lake Erie.”

Higher levels of nutrients, including phosphorus, sunlight, and warm temperatures create an ideal environment for the growth of algal blooms.

In the summer of 2014, an exceptionally large algal bloom in Lake Erie forced the City of Toledo to enact a tap water ban after it tested positive for toxins. Water quality was also affected on Pelee Island that summer forcing residents to drink bottled water.

The federal and provincial governments released the Lake Erie Action Plan last week.

It contains 120 recommendations to cut the amount of runoff from farms and developed areas into the water system. Included in the plan is a call for effective legislation, greater public education, creating more wetlands, limiting discharge from municipal sewage treatment plants, and encouraging ways to keep phosphorus on farmers’ fields.

“ERCA and other Lake Erie Conservation Authorities have robust monitoring programs to target actions through science, landowner relationships, watershed planning, and a broad range of projects and programs,” says Water Quality Scientist and Source Water Protection Manager Dr Katie Stammler.