Lake Erie – so is it Ohio’s fault?

22 Aug 2014

t1_11246_1533_LakeErie_143_250mThe recent shutdown of Toledo’s water system due to an algal toxin in the water caught everyone’s attention.  Our friends at Dragun note that the Toledo water problem was triggered by some odd weather, but the algal source problem remains out there.   The MDEQ announced this month a five point plan to protect the lake:

• Optimize phosphorus removal at 5 key wastewater treatment plants.
• Reduce agricultural and non-point source discharges to the Maumee River watershed.
• Cease open water disposal of dredged Toledo Harbor sediments.
• Maximize implementation of a phosphorus control activities checklist.
• Study how invasive mussels impact cycling of phosphorus and control invasive mussels.

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin all have some form of phosphorus turf fertilizer restrictions in place and the general rule in 2010 Public Act 299 is no phosphorus fertilizer on residential or commercial lawns, unless an exemption applies.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I blogged about this very issue in 2011 and 2013 –  Michigan has regulated phosphate application but has not banned it outright. Ohio has been studying this as well but the focus on the Maumee River and Toledo harbor reflect some Ohio-origins of this problem. In short, both Michigan and Ohio contribute nutrients that foster these algal blooms and both need to work to minimize the sources of extra nutrients which the Lake cannot metabolize as fast as we would like it to.

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