Pollutants feeding the toxic algae blooms have been turning certain sectors of the western Lake Erie green and polluting the drinking water in recent summers just doesn’t come from Ohio.
They are going into the lake from farm fields in Michigan and Indiana, leaky septic tanks in southern Canada, as well as the wasterwater plant of detroit.
Which is the reason of Ohio’s governor and environmental chief asking some of the neighbors to have a look at the possible ways of cutting down on pollutants especially phosphorus, which ultimately goes into the lake’s tributaries.
“We can’t do it alone, and they can’t do it alone,” said Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. “I think everybody really understands that we need collaboration.”
Discussions with officials from Indiana, Michigan and southern Ontario have centered on the overall goal of reducing phosphorus in waterways and not on specifics about what needs to be done, Butler said.
“We want everybody to come up with their own prescription based on whatever symptom they have,” he said.
Within the last year Ohio has some regulations on livestock manure and commercial farm fertilizers. Researchers have seen as much as 66% of the phosphorus in the lakes coming through agriculture. The new regulations bans the farmers in the northwestern Ohio from spreading manure on rain-soaked and frozen fields and requiring training before farmers can use commercial fertilizers.
Whether anything like that will come in Michigan or Indiana remains to be seen.
From both the states, officials have said that they support efforts for making the water quality better and that they already have policies which can prevent a huge amount of phosphorus from getting into streams and rivers.
Michigan has a program (voluntary) to aid the farmers to decrease pollution which makes its way into the waterways and is in the process of closing a loophole in how manure of farm is handled, said Dan Wyant who is the director of the state’s environmental quality.
“There’s not a silver bullet to solve this problem,” he said. “More has to be done.”
That includes improving wastewater treatment plants that send raw sewage into rivers during heaving rains and controlling invasive mussels that are thought to help algae thrive, he said.
Some work to fight the algae already is underway in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.