International Joint Commission Committed to Address Nutrient Problems in Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the shallowest and smallest of the Great Lakes by volume and is heavily influenced by agricultural and urban runoff. It is subject to periodic outbreaks of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia. These problems were identified as the highest priority of the International Joint Commission (IJC) as it drafts guidelines and targets for a new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to be signed by President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper later this year.
Dr. Don Scavia, principal investigator in the NCCOS project “Assessing the Causes, Consequences and Remedies for Hypoxia in Lake Erie”, has been named to the Lake Erie Work Group of the IJC, and will be evaluating management options using project results including the current loads of phosphorus entering Lake Erie from various watersheds, the effects of land-use and climate change on the delivery of phosphorus from agricultural watersheds, and links between hypoxia and HAB events and phosphorus loads. Deliberations of the work group will be used to evaluate and potentially reset international targets for phosphorus loading to Lake Erie.