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Governor Whitmer announces Lake Erie water quality improvement plan

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer is announcing a plan to protect Lake Erie from agricultural runoff. The plan involves land conservation and education aimed at reducing the amount of phosphorus that gets into the lake.

Jennifer Holton is a spokesperson for Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. She says the state is working on several projects to cut down on runoff.

“It really is everyone working together," Holton said. "Whether it’s conservation districts, working with our farmers, we want to make quantifiable improvements in water quality.”

Phosphorus is a common fertilizer on farms, but it can also cause toxic cyanobacteria blooms that hurt water quality in Lake Erie.

Tammy Newcomb is the senior water policy advisor for the state Department of Natural Resources. She says tactics like wetland restoration can help slow the process of runoff reaching the lake.

“So, it allows time for the biota and to uptake that phosphorous as well as for the water itself just to kind of settle out a little bit," Newcomb said.

The adaptive management plan aims to cut the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40-percent in the next few years.