Eutrophication in the Great Lakes: New Policy Tools for Ensuring a Thriving Great Lakes System

Kathryn Freidman | BIG Policy Briefs

Over the past few decades, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been on the rise in fresh (lakes, ponds, rivers and reservoirs) and brackish (seas, estuaries and lakes) waters throughout the world (O’Neil et al., 2012), as well as in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River basin. This is particularly true in Lake Erie. This Great Lake is the most susceptible to HABs due to the fact that it is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and receives a very high level of nutrient runoff such as phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N) and organic compounds from anthropogenic sources (Rastogi et al., 2014). Massive algal blooms take place almost annually in Lake Erie (e.g. August 2014 and July 2015) and threaten sources of high quality drinking water, a demonstrated by the HAB events that rendered the city of Toledo‚Äôs water undrinkable in 2014 and 2015 (Yeager-Kozacek, 2014; Messina, 2015).

Kathryn Freidman, Director of Cross-Border and International Research, University at Buffalo (SUNY)

Eutrophication in the Great Lakes: New Policy Tools for Ensuring a Thriving Great Lakes System