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New report details US plan to fight Lake Erie algae blooms

2014 algae bloom in Lake Erie

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. EPA’s plan targets phosphorus, the main cause of the blooms.  It summarizes agendas from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Phosphorus winds up in the lake from sources including agriculture and wastewater treatment plants.

Both the U.S. and Canada have agreed to reduce phosphorus in western Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025.  Canada released its own report last month, with an emphasis on wastewater treatment plants.

The U.S. plan incorporates data and information from a white paper released last September.

The National Wildlife Federation’s Gail Hesse worked on that white paper.  She says an earlier version of the EPA plan lacked projections for phosphorus loads.

“There’s a lot of great improvements in the plan. We’re still looking for how do we respond or how do the agencies respond should we not meet the targets as expected,” said Hesse.

Other actions include creating permanent demonstration wetlands and researching a type of green algae in Lake Erie’s eastern basin.

In a release from environmental groups including the National Wildlife Federation, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, environmentalists say they are disappointed with the plan’s reliance on voluntary efforts to reduce nutrient runoff.

The EPA will reassess the plan every three to five years, starting in 2023.