Groups want EPA to curb Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms

Dec 1, 2016

Lake Erie algal bloom in 2011.
Credit NASA

Environmental leaders are asking for federal help to fight pollution in Lake Erie. 

The National Wildlife Federation, along with U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Marcy Kaptur, wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to list the western part of the lake as ‘impaired.’ Officials in Michigan already consider that section of the lake to be impaired.

The problem is algal blooms.

“This is green scum that you can often see on top of the water,” says Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “And it’s a result of essentially too many nutrients flowing into the water.”

Scientists say runoff from farms and cities is causing the problem. 

Algal blooms can be toxic. In 2014, Toledo residents could not drink tap water for several days because of toxins.

The EPA is required by law to respond to the requests within the month. Shriberg says he wants the EPA to enforce limits on pollution. 

“If you cut 40 percent of the nutrient pollution that reaches Lake Erie,” Shriberg says, “you would reduce the algal blooms to much lower and more historic levels as opposed to the very high levels that they’re at right now.”