Plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie released
Ottawa – The governments of Canada and Ontario have released an ambitious plan to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 per cent.
The Lake Erie Action Plan identifies more than 120 federal, provincial and partner actions, using mandatory and voluntary approaches, to help achieve that reduction goal, Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a news release. The plan will be reviewed and revised as needed over time to ensure continued progress towards achievement of targets.
Phosphorus enters Lake Erie from many sources, including runoff from agricultural lands, urban centres, sewage treatment plants and septic systems, the ministry said. Actions included in the plan to reduce phosphorus loads include upgrading municipal wastewater treatment and collection systems, encouraging effective techniques to keep phosphorus on farmland and out of the watershed, and improving wetland conservation.
Phosphorus is a primary cause of harmful algal blooms that can have a wide range of impacts on the environment, human health and the economy: water quality, fish and wildlife populations and habitats are degraded; beaches are fouled; water intakes are clogged, commercial fisheries are at risk, and toxins can also pose a risk to humans.
The action plan was developed following extensive public engagement and close collaboration with Indigenous communities, municipalities, agricultural organizations, conservation authorities, interest groups, and others.
Indigenous peoples, as stewards of the land, have been valued partners in the development of this action plan. Canada and Ontario will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities within the Lake Erie basin to help implement the plan.
The ministry said it works with the agricultural sector to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie from agricultural land and to adopt ways to reduce their overall environmental impact.
The Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan meets commitments under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health, and the Ontario Great Lakes Protection Act and Ontario's agreements with U.S. states, the ministry said.
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