Governments of Canada, Ontario release action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie

The governments of Canada and Ontario have released the final Lake Erie Action Plan.

The plan identifies more than 120 federal, provincial and partner actions, using mandatory and voluntary approaches, to help achieve the goal of reducing phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 percent. The plan will be reviewed and revised as needed over time to ensure continued progress towards achievement of targets.

Phosphorus enters Lake Erie from many sources, including runoff from agricultural lands, urban centers, sewage treatment plants and septic systems. Actions included in the plan to reduce phosphorus loads include upgrading municipal wastewater treatment and collection systems, encouraging effective techniques to keep phosphorus on farmland and out of the watershed, and improving wetland conservation.

Phosphorus is a primary cause of harmful algal blooms that can have a wide range of impacts on the environment, human health and the economy: water quality, fish and wildlife populations and habitats are degraded; beaches are fouled; water intakes are clogged; commercial fisheries are at risk; and toxins can pose a risk to humans.

The action plan was developed following extensive public engagement and close collaboration with Indigenous communities, municipalities, agricultural organizations, conservation authorities, interest groups and others.

The plan is a milestone to protect the shared waters of the Great Lakes, and meets commitments under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health. The plan also meets commitments under the Ontario Great Lakes Protection Act and Ontario’s agreements with U.S. states.

“The Great Lakes are a treasured resource for all Canadians,” said Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Through the Lake Erie Action Plan, we are working with our partners and delivering on a key commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Together, we are protecting our environment and strengthening our economy, and in doing so, improving freshwater resources so Canadians can swim, drink, and fish.”

Maritime Editorial