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Ohio Releases its Lake Erie Phosphorus-Reduction Plan a Year Early

A new Ohio plan is foucsed on reducing algae blooms in western Lake Erie

The Ohio EPA has released its framework for reducing phosphorus levels in western Lake Erie under the under the state’s agreement with Michigan and Ontario, Canada.  It has been rolled out one year ahead of the deadline set by the U.S. EPA and Canada.

Since 2011, Ohio has spent about $2 billion to reduce farm runoff and other sources of phosphorus getting into Lake Erie, the main cause of algae blooms. Laura Johnson is head of the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg College in Northwest Ohio. She says best part of Ohio’s formalized plan is enhanced monitoring.

“It sort of sets up this idea of adaptive management. So if something isn’t working or not moving fast enough, we’ll have the monitoring there to be able to say we need to do more, we need to change what we’re doing. And I think that’s really important so there can be some flexibility and give and take in terms of what it’s going to take to get us to where we need to be.”

The goal is reducing phosphorus runoff by 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. The Environmental Law and Policy Center, which advocates for water quality issues, says while Ohio’s plan has some positive steps, it falls short because it relies too much on voluntary rather than mandatory measures.