U.S. and Canada work to limit Lake Erie phosphorus

Print More
Ohio EPA chief Craig Butler (left) and Ohio EPA deputy director of water resources Karl Gebhardt (right, in red) talk about the state's plan to reduce phosphorus to Lake Erie, a plan they hope will also reduce algae blooms. Image: Karen Schaefer.

Ohio EPA chief Craig Butler (left) and Ohio EPA deputy director of water resources Karl Gebhardt (right, in red) talk about the state’s plan to reduce phosphorus to Lake Erie, a plan they hope will also reduce algae blooms. Image: Karen Schaefer.

By Karen Schaefer

At a meeting this week (Wednesday) of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission, state EPA officials rolled out their plan to reduce the phosphorus that’s fueling Lake Erie’s annual algae blooms.

Michigan has already completed a similar plan. As independent producer Karen Schaefer reports, the key to measuring Ohio’s success will be intensive monitoring of changes in water quality.

Karl Gebhardt, deputy director for water resources at the Ohio EPA, says reducing phosphorus to Lake Erie by 40­percent won’t happen overnight. He says the new plan will rely on intensive and ongoing scrutiny of all watersheds where phosphorus is being released to see whether changes in agriculture, wastewater, and septic systems are having an impact.

GEBHARDT: The first twelve months is really going to be making sure we have good data in those sub­watersheds, making sure that where we have monitoring we need it and where we need monitoring we have it.

Gebhardt says that will mean adding at least a dozen new water quality monitoring sites. And

Ohio EPA chief Craig Butler says the state will be looking for ways to fund water quality monitoring over the long term.

BUTLER: We’re just starting, we cannot let our guard down. Nor let anybody else tell us that the issue is gone, that it’s over, that we’re done.

In addition to Ohio’s plan to watchdog the success of its phosphorus reduction plan, the Great Lakes Commission has launched a new website to oversee the process, called Blue Accounting.

For Great Lakes Echo, I’m Karen Schaefer.

Support for Karen Schaefer’s public radio series is provided by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program at Ohio State University.

3 thoughts on “U.S. and Canada work to limit Lake Erie phosphorus

  1. This is another positive step, more data is always good, especially if the array of monitoring locations and techniques are reliably certain to pin causes directly to sources; but the truth is the basic causes are known, and action can be taken and the goal achieved fairly quickly. See work of Don Scavia, University of Michigan; see the International Joint Commission’s (US-Canadian governing board for Great Lakes) LEEP Report urging swift action to reduce phosphorus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.