Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement commitment plan open for public comment

Every voice is an important voice. Take this opportunity to weigh in on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement action plan for phosphorous reduction in Lake Erie.

Satellite image of Lake Erie 2017 algae bloom. (Photo by Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research).
Satellite image of Lake Erie 2017 algae bloom. (Photo by Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research).

The office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement announced on Aug. 18 that the U.S. Action Plan drafted by the committee is now available for view and public comment until Sept. 29, 2017. The plan is the result of an agreement between Canada and the United States to outline strategies for meeting phosphorous reduction targets for Lake Erie. Public advisory councils were organized in 2014 as they embarked on this momentous task.

According to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) website the “EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office coordinates U.S. efforts to fulfill our commitments under the Agreement. Implementation is accomplished through a variety of federal programs, in coordination and consultation with states, tribal governments, local agencies and the public.”

GLNPO’s is specifically charged with the task “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, which includes Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.”

Ten joint actions are identified in the plan:

  1. Reduce nutrient applications on frozen or snow-covered ground
  2. Adopt 4R’s Nutrient Stewardship Certification or similar programs
  3. Reduce total phosphorus from seven key U.S. municipal dischargers
  4. Encourage investments in green infrastructure
  5. Reduce open-water disposal of dredged material
  6. Pilot innovative performance-based nutrient reduction projects
  7. Phase out residential phosphorus fertilizer applications within five years
  8. Target conservation at the watershed scale
  9. Validate or refine the reduction targets and timelines using an adaptive approach
  10. Develop an integrated monitoring, modeling, tracking, and reporting network for Lake Erie.

By focusing on these 10 annexes, GLWQA was able to identify and prioritize the immediate steps necessary for targeting the most effective environmental responses first. The bi-national teams set up for each issue related to phosphorous reduction are now ready for comments on this draft initiative. Stakeholders will be engaged in person throughout August and September with targeted stakeholder groups. You can read the draft plan and comment on the draft plan at any time at EPA's website. To comment on the draft plan or for more information contact Santina Wortman,

To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact Michigan State University Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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