Recommended Binational Phosphorus Targets to Combat Lake Erie Algal Blooms

Satellite image of an algal bloom on Lake Erie, taken on September 26, 2013. Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Satellite image of an algal bloom on Lake Erie, taken on September 26, 2013.
Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Introduction

Algae occur naturally in freshwater systems. They are essential to the aquatic food web and healthy ecosystems. However, too much algae can lead to the development of algal blooms, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Since the 1990s, Lake Erie has been experiencing increasing algal growth, resulting in increased impairment of water quality, as well as increased impairment of the use and enjoyment of the tremendous natural resource that is Lake Erie.

To combat this growing threat, the Governments of Canada and the United States are committed to working with others to manage phosphorus concentrations and loadings in Lake Erie as a means of reducing algal growth.This commitment is formalized in the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which stipulates completion of revised binational phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie by February 2016. To learn more about the Agreement, visit http://binational.net.

Working in collaboration, federal agencies, state and provincial governments, municipal and local governments, and many other partners convened a GLWQA Nutrients Annex Subcommittee in 2013 to review the interim phosphorus targets for Lake Erie, last revised in 1983, and recommend revisions to those targets. Subject matter experts supported this effort. Their report can be found here.

This website summarizes the Subcommittee`s recommendations. Environment Canada solicited input on the draft target recommendations of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) Nutrients Annex Subcommittee from June 30 to August 31, 2015.

Proposed Binational Phosphorus Load Reduction Targets
Lake Ecosystem Objectives
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Annex 4, Section B
Western Basin
of Lake Erie
Central Basin of
Lake Erie
Minimize the extent of hypoxic zones in the Waters of the Great Lakes associated with excessive phosphorus loading, with particular emphasis on Lake Erie40 percent reduction in total phosphorus entering the Western Basin and Central Basin of Lake Erie - from the United States and from Canada - to achieve 6000 metric ton Central Basin load
Maintain algal species consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems in the nearshore Waters of the Great Lakes40 percent reduction in spring total and soluble reactive phosphorus loads from the following watersheds where localized algae is a problem:
Thames River - Canada
Maumee River - US
River Raisin - US
Portage River - US
Toussaint Creek - US
Leamington Tributaries - Canada
Sandusky River - US
Huron River, OH – US
Maintain cyanobacteria biomass at levels that do not produce concentrations of toxins that pose a threat to human or ecosystem health in the Waters of the Great Lakes40 percent reduction in spring total and soluble reactive phosphorus loads from the Maumee River (U.S.)N/A




Satellite image of an algal bloom on Lake Erie, taken on September 26, 2013.
Credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Introduction

Algae occur naturally in freshwater systems. They are essential to the aquatic food web and healthy ecosystems. However, too much algae can lead to the development of algal blooms, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Since the 1990s, Lake Erie has been experiencing increasing algal growth, resulting in increased impairment of water quality, as well as increased impairment of the use and enjoyment of the tremendous natural resource that is Lake Erie.

To combat this growing threat, the Governments of Canada and the United States are committed to working with others to manage phosphorus concentrations and loadings in Lake Erie as a means of reducing algal growth.This commitment is formalized in the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which stipulates completion of revised binational phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie by February 2016. To learn more about the Agreement, visit http://binational.net.

Working in collaboration, federal agencies, state and provincial governments, municipal and local governments, and many other partners convened a GLWQA Nutrients Annex Subcommittee in 2013 to review the interim phosphorus targets for Lake Erie, last revised in 1983, and recommend revisions to those targets. Subject matter experts supported this effort. Their report can be found here.

This website summarizes the Subcommittee`s recommendations. Environment Canada solicited input on the draft target recommendations of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) Nutrients Annex Subcommittee from June 30 to August 31, 2015.

Proposed Binational Phosphorus Load Reduction Targets
Lake Ecosystem Objectives
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Annex 4, Section B
Western Basin
of Lake Erie
Central Basin of
Lake Erie
Minimize the extent of hypoxic zones in the Waters of the Great Lakes associated with excessive phosphorus loading, with particular emphasis on Lake Erie40 percent reduction in total phosphorus entering the Western Basin and Central Basin of Lake Erie - from the United States and from Canada - to achieve 6000 metric ton Central Basin load
Maintain algal species consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems in the nearshore Waters of the Great Lakes40 percent reduction in spring total and soluble reactive phosphorus loads from the following watersheds where localized algae is a problem:
Thames River - Canada
Maumee River - US
River Raisin - US
Portage River - US
Toussaint Creek - US
Leamington Tributaries - Canada
Sandusky River - US
Huron River, OH – US
Maintain cyanobacteria biomass at levels that do not produce concentrations of toxins that pose a threat to human or ecosystem health in the Waters of the Great Lakes40 percent reduction in spring total and soluble reactive phosphorus loads from the Maumee River (U.S.)N/A




Comments Closed

The opportunity to comment is now closed. Thank you to all participants who shared their feedback.

Environment Canada solicited input on the draft target recommendations of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) Nutrients Annex Subcommittee from June 30 to August 31, 2015. Following consideration of input received, Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will finalize targets by February 2016. Development of binational phosphorus reduction strategies and domestic action plans to meet the objectives for phosphorus concentrations and loading targets in Lake Erie will be developed by 2018.

For more information about the GLWQA please visit Binational.Net.