View of Thames River. June 27, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Nearly $200K put towards water-based project

A project that looks to reduce phosphorus runoff and algal blooms in local waterways has received a major funding boost.

The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative recently received almost $200,000 from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The phosphorus runoff from agricultural land has been identified as a contributing factor in the growth of algal blooms in the Thames River and Lake Erie. The project, which saw the placement of monitoring devices at the edge of fields last year, looks to collect data and developing technologies to tackle the issue.

“We’re thankful that the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program is providing us with the resources we need to get on with the job of devising and testing practical, affordable options for reducing the amount of phosphorus that makes its way into Lake Erie,” said Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope in a statement. “As a group representing mayors and farm groups, we are determined to help resolve the algal bloom problem for our communities.”

Devices have been placed in certain fields across the municipality. One the fields that has the device belongs to Louis Roesch, OFA director for Chatham-Kent-Essex (Zone 1).

Roesch said the runoff from fields with these devices are collected and analyzed on a continuous basis.

“As it passes through the system, we’re pulling out the phosphorus,” he said. “In the current one that we have here, we got very good side benefits, it also reads the nitrogen and it is also pulling the nitrogen out with a compound that’s being used on our farm.”

According to a media release sent from the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative, there will be nine demonstration sites.

“We in agriculture want to help, we want to make sure we’re doing the right things,” said Roesch. “We want to have data to ensure that we’re putting the money in the right places to make sure that it’s doing the job to clean up the Great Lakes.”

The project is one that is expected to take a few years to complete.