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NCCOS Research Underpins International Lake Erie Ecosystem Report

With Lake Erie threatened again by eutrophication and harmful algal blooms, the Great Lakes International Joint Commission (IJC) recently established a “Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority” (LEEP) initiative to provide advice to governments to develop policy and implement management approaches to restore the lake’s ecosystem.

The IJC released the LEEP report on August 29, 2013 for public comment. The report will serve as the basis for deliberations on new target loads and best management practices for limiting phosphorus input into Lake Erie. The report made 15 specific recommendations directed toward federal, state, and provincial governments. These include more focus on the Maumee watershed (the major source of phosphorus entering the lake), a focus on reducing nutrient loads during spring, a ban on manure application during winter, and prohibition of phosphorus-based lawn fertilizers.

To implement LEEP recommendations, the IJC established work groups of independent experts who developed a better understanding of causes and controls of phosphorus, the leading cause of eutrophication, hypoxia, and harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.  The IJC held public meetings to gather ideas from the public and garner grass roots support. NCCOS sponsored research contributed to the LEEP, most notably the investigations of Don Scavia, Steven Wilhelm, Greg Boyer, Joe DePinto, and NOAA’s Stuart Ludsin and Tomas Hook.

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