Quantcast

Lake Erie Algal Bloom Worsening By the Day

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Amid growing concern over the spread of blue-green algae in the Western Lake Erie basin, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) invited the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief conservation expert to Ohio and emphasized the importance of maintaining a focus on conservation programs to improve nutrient management and reduce soil erosion. Recently, front-page stories about blue-green algae have run in the Lorain Morning Journal, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Sandusky Register.

“The Western Lake Erie basin is a fragile ecosystem that has been out-of-balance for years. The severity of the algae bloom in the basin this year poses a threat to Ohio’s economy and Ohioans’ ability to enjoy the lake,” Brown said. “We must double down our efforts to restore the health of Lake Erie, and conservation is an important component of improving water quality and reducing algal bloom. I’m inviting the Agriculture Department’s chief agriculture conservation expert to Ohio so he can see the lake firsthand and meet with local experts who are working to improve nutrient management and improve the basin.”

In the letter, Brown invited Dave White, chief of the Natural Resource Conservation Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to visit the Western Lake Erie basin. The Natural Resource Conservation Service released a new report Oct. 13 indicating “conservation practice use in the Great Lakes region has reduced sediment, nutrient and pesticide losses from farm fields” but “there remain[s] significant opportunities for reducing nonpoint agricultural sources of pollution.”

Brown, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is working with Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to ensure that the 2012 Farm Bill provides the Natural Resource Conservation Service with tools to increase conservation efforts in the Western Lake Erie basin and throughout the Great Lakes. Earlier this year, Brown launched his “Grown in Ohio” listening session tour to get input from Ohio farmers as the Senate considers the 2012 Farm Bill. Brown has held four sessions so far, in Chesterland, Chillicothe, New Philadelphia and Custar.

Additionally, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Brown has fought to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain and restore the chemical, biological and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality.

The text of Brown’s letter can be found below.

Mr. Dave White

Chief

Natural Resource Conservation Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave, SW

Washington D.C. 20250

Dear Chief White:

Harmful algal blooms continue to be one of the most persistent challenges to the Western Lake Erie basin. Last week alone, front page stories published by the Lorain Morning Journal, the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Sandusky Register indicated that blue-green algae blooms are worsening in the basin.

As we mark Great Lakes Week, I urge you to continue the positive contributions NRCS and your field staff have made to improving water quality in Lake Erie—Lake Erie plays a particularly important role in the lives of millions of Ohioans. Generations of Ohioans have spent their summers enjoying Lake Erie’s world class fisheries and calm waters for boating and recreation. Every year, tourism related to the lake contributes more than $10 billion to Ohio’s economy.

As you know, harmful algal blooms are evidence of larger problems across the watershed. The 2011 Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) report released yesterday emphasizes that conservation must play an important role in restoring the health of Lake Erie. The work that has been made possible through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and USDA conservation programs has contributed greatly to improvements in the basin; however, more can and should be done.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am working with Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to make sure the next Farm Bill provides the Natural Resource Conservation Service the direction and authority necessary to improve conservation efforts in the Western Lake Erie basin and throughout the Great Lakes region. I would also like to invite you to visit Ohio to see firsthand the algal blooms in Lake Erie and meet with the Ohioans who are working together to improve the watershed.

Thank you for your dedication and service in the effort to improve the health of Lake Erie and our nation’s working lands.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown

U.S. Senator

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

Read More Show Less
Students gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC, Sept. 20. NRDC

By Jeff Turrentine

Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less