Interim Lake Erie nutrient reduction plan released
Ann Arbor, Mich. – Following months of work through the Great Lakes Commission, the Lake Erie Nutrient Targets (LENT) Working Group, comprised of the four states bordering the lake (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York) and the province of Ontario released today a nine-step interim Joint Action Plan for nutrient reduction. The interim Joint Action Plan complements and provides additional detail to the Collaborative Agreement signed by the western basin governors of Michigan and Ohio and the premier of Ontario on June 13.
The LENT plan calls for a 40 percent reduction in loadings of phosphorus into the western and central Lake Erie basins from 2008 levels by 2025, with an interim reduction target of 20 percent by 2020. The reduction targets and the nine steps are designed to help protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms, toxic cyanobacteria, anoxic zones and other problems caused by excessive loadings of phosphorus.
“Excessive phosphorus in Lake Erie creates threats to drinking water and other issues that affect all of our states and Ontario,” said Kelly Burch, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and executive director of oil and gas operations for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “Pennsylvania shares a commitment to jointly solve these problems.”
“These goals and steps will help drive early action as we continue to invest, monitor and adapt as we learn. Protecting Lake Erie is a key part of the new draft 30-year Water Strategy for Michigan and an imperative for the next generation,” said Jon Allan, vice chair of the Great Lakes Commission and director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes.
“The 40 percent reduction target, timelines and action steps in the LENT plan are well-aligned with Ohio’s policies and investments, as well as the efforts being advanced by the states, Ontario through the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement, and the U.S. and Canada through Annex 4 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” said Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The nine steps in the interim Joint Action Plan address:
- Application of fertilizer and manure on frozen and snow-covered ground
- The 4Rs Nutrient Stewardship Certification program and similar comprehensive management approaches
- Discharges of phosphorus from seven key municipal facilities in the western and central basin
- Investments in green infrastructure for urban stormwater and agricultural runoff
- Open water disposal of dredged material
- Performance-based incentives to reduce nutrients
- Residential phosphorus fertilizer
- Adaptive management to validate and refine reduction targets and timelines
- Collaboration toward an integrated monitoring and modeling network.
The LENT Working Group was convened following a resolution adopted by the eight states and two provinces that make up the Great Lakes Commission in the wake of the drinking water crisis that affected residents of Toledo in August 2014. The working group will prepare a final report this fall.
The interim Joint Action Plan is available at www.glc.org/library/2015-lent-joint-action-plan-for-lake-erie.
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The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Kelly Burch, executive director of oil and gas operations for the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.