New Draft Action Plan Aimed At Reducing Algal Blooms In Lake Erie

The Government of Canada is looking for public input about a new draft action plan aimed at reducing algal blooms in Lake Erie. 

The government says algal blooms can be harmful to human health and the environment. 

According to the government, the increasing amount of algal blooms is due to high amounts of phosphorus entering the lake.  

The new action plan is aimed at reducing the amount of phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40 per cent. 

A major component of the plan involves reducing pollution from municipal waste water facilities and greenhouses.

Environmental Defence, an ecological preservation organization, is saying it applauds the government's effort to clean up the lake. 

However, the organization says the plan needs to be strengthened in certain areas. 

Environmental Defence's Water Program Manager, Ashley Wallis, says the plan needs to be reworked in some respects.

She says it is too vague and needs to address more issues. 

"We are definitely not convinced that it is going to hit the target required to reduce algal blooms," she says. "Which is why I think it is important to add in more specific actions and hopefully be able to demonstrate exactly how much those actions will reduce nutrient loadings and therefore reduce the likely of algal blooms."

She says Environmental Defence will be providing the government with several suggestions to help improve the plan.  

"We would also like to see attention drawn to the critical importance of wetlands," says Wallis. "Wetlands can actually hold and store phosphorous, keeping it from running off into the lake. So we think the plan should really articulate how important wetlands are."

She says many Canadians still do not realize the importance of the Great Lakes. 

"They are a significant source of drinking water for many communities in Canada and the United States," says Wallis. "They are also a real economic hub. For example, the commercial fishery in Lake Erie I believe is valued at about $234 million a year." 

The government will be collecting comments from community members about the draft action plan until May 9.