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Great Lakes Today was created to highlight issues affecting the lakes. The main partners are WBFO (Buffalo), ideastream (Cleveland) and WXXI (Rochester).Browse more coverage here. Major funding for Great Lakes Today is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. Additional funding comes from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Research Shows Connection Between Wetlands and Algae Blooms

A Northeast Ohio wetland [Kenneth Sponsler/shutterstock]

According to the Ohio EPA, 90% of Ohio’s historic wetlands have been destroyed.  New research from the University of Waterloo in Canada shows wetlands play a bigger role than we thought in protecting water from harmful fertilizer nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.

Wetlands have several roles –they provide wildlife habitat, they hold water and reduce flooding, and they help filter nutrients in water running off the landscape.

Research authored by University of Waterloo professor Nandita Basu’s says smaller wetlands are more effective at filtering water.

Basu says rather than focusing on just restoring large wetlands, “we should protect a range of wetland function,” said Basu.  “Some are more effective nutrient sinks. Other wetlands might be more effective flood protectors.” 

Basu says wetland restoration is usually focused on large wetlands because they’re perceived to be more important.

According to the report, smaller wetlands are more effective as “nutrient sinks” because they have more soil that filters less water.

Incorporating data from all over the world, the report looked at 600 studies of wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs. 

Basu’s research could affect wetlands conservation in the Great Lakes region where nutrient runoff is believed to be a cause of toxic algae blooms.