Farm runoff is doing a number on the Great Lakes.
On January 18, the International Joint Commission (IJC) conducted a report on the Great Lakes to see if Canada and the US were doing their part to reach the objectives created by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and concluded that the Great Lakes, which provide many Canadians with their fresh water, need to be better protected from runoff that is produced by local agriculture.
“There is a lot of public interest in the issue, a number of organizations voiced concern and the wish to see radionuclides covered as a specific objective or a chemical of mutual concern under the agreement.” said Frank Bevacqua of the International Joint Commission in Washington to metronews.ca.
Manure is among the largest polluter for all the lakes excluding Lake Superior which appears to be doing well, but Lake Erie is not so well off and even has declared “dead zones” in certain parts of the lake caused by excess phosphorus in the water which spurs rapid algae growth. Dead zones caused by a large algae presence in the area brings down the amount of oxygen in the water and kills off everything in those areas.
“The water quality of western and central Lake Erie is unsatisfactory and unacceptable. New mandatory protections should supplement voluntary initiatives to reduce phosphorus loadings,” reads the draft report by the IJC.
There are also many chemicals that have yet to be identified in the water which could cause an even greater amount of problems for the estimated 40-million people who depend on the lakes as a clean water source, as well as a lack of attention from both the US and Canada in identifying and preventing these chemicals from entering the water.
“There has been little progress in the identification of chemicals of concern and no publicly available progress in the development and implementation of binational strategies to address them.” says the report.
The IJC also says that there is a need for action related to climate change and that more research needs to be done on the issue by both the US and Canada or the effects could be extremely harmful to the lakes.
“Climate change has been altering Great Lakes water quality and levels and further forecast changes will have detrimental impacts,” the report adds.
But is the problem of farms harming the water supply a new one? A 2011 a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that said that the amount of runoff entering the Great Lakes as well as other local water ways, was declining. But also, that more would have to be done should the algae problems ever be fixed.
Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend meetings in March that will be taking part in cities across the Canada and the US, as well as voice their opinions on the report online which can be found here.
Initiatives on the Canadian side may prove important now that the current president of the United States, Donald Trump believes that global warming was created by the Chinese to help them in making US business non-competitive?