The City of Monroe, Michigan on the Lake Erie shore, 17 miles north of Toledo, Ohio, is a small town Mecca for tourism and water-related activities. Consequently, water quality in Lake Erie is a major concern.
|Downtown Monroe and River Raisin|
Of course, the State of Michigan has a hand in the game, but the primary responsibility for improving water quality in Lake Erie falls to the State of Ohio under an agreement between those two states and the Province of Ontario. Limiting phosphorus running off farm fields and into the lake, where it feeds algal blooms, is the first order of business.
Last month, the State of Ohio announced plans to cut the amount of phosphorus entering western Lake Erie by 20% by 2020, and by 40% by 2025, using the amount of phosphorus in 2008 as a baseline. A year ago, the governors of Ohio and Michigan and the premier of Ontario committed to those targets, the same goals agreed to by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
That’s a tall order. Some water quality experts doubt those goals can be met without drastic measures.
Ohio expects to improve monitoring at water treatment plants, identify watersheds more prone to erosion and set targets for phosphorus reduction in each county, among other steps.
Last year, Gov. Kasich signed legislation that prohibits spreading fertilizer on ground that is frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if rain is forecast within 12 to 24 hours, depending on the type of fertilizer.
Critics say Ohio must compel compliance if the new limitations are not achieved voluntarily.