EPA Announces Plan to Combat Harmful Algae Blooms in Lake Erie

The action plan summarizes the actions federal agencies and state are taking to achieve the targets for phosphorus reduction adopted by the U.S. and Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 2016 and provides a mechanism for tracking progress.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of a domestic action plan for reducing phosphorus, a major contributor to harmful algae blooms, in Lake Erie. The action plan summarizes the actions federal agencies and states are taking to achieve the targets for phosphorus reduction adopted by the United States and Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 2016 and provides a mechanism for tracking progress.

The United States committed to reduce phosphorus nutrient sources by 40 percent, which would be a reduction of 7.3 million pounds. The bulk of the reductions will come from Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan sources, but all five states in the basin are committed to reducing nutrient loadings and minimizing excessive algal growth.

"Today's action plan is a significant step in fulfilling our commitment to protecting the health of Lake Erie," said Cathy Stepp, Great Lakes National Program manager and Region 5 administrator. "EPA is working with federal and state partners to ensure local communities and economies continue to benefit from this vital resource."

Harmful algae growth in Lake Erie has increased significantly in the last decade due to storms that deliver high levels of nutrients from major rivers. Excessive algal growth threatens both Lake Erie's ecosystem and human health because more than 10 million people rely on the lake for clean drinking water, as well as swimming and fishing opportunities. Recurring algal blooms and associated oxygen-depleted areas that occur when algae die and decompose threaten drinking water quality and Lake Erie's $12.9 billion tourism and fishing industry.

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