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Report calls for stricter phosphorus pollution control at Lake Erie

March 06, 2014
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A U.S.-Canadian joint group has called for decisive measures to cut the phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie, warning of a serious problem with algae blooms putting water quality under threat.

The International Joint Commission (IJC)
, which aims to improve water quality in border waterways such as the Great Lakes, has proposed that targets for reduction of phosphorus discharge into Lake Erie should be lowered further. It suggested that in areas where algae is threatening the survival of fish the targets for phosphorus levels should be cut by 37 percent in the spring period between March and June, compared to the average levels recorded in 2007 and 2012.

RELATED: Ohio proposes phosphorus limits in waterways

Although Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, it is the one that has the largest fish population and supports thousands of jobs, the IJC said in a statement. Toxic algae can cause severe damage to fish and other animals and can poison humans, and the main nutrient for algae bloom is phosphorus. Various industries, such as agriculture and farming, as well as urban development, are key sources of phosphorus pollution so these should be addressed urgently, the IJC added.

The commission has forwarded its recommendations to the U.S. and Canadian governments, highlighting a series of knowledge gaps that may be preventing lawmakers from making informed choices and implementing adequate protection policies, the statement said.

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