Lake Erie Is Full Of Algae Again Amid SW Ontario’s Exploding Greenhouse Sector

"Experts say nutrient-rich water from greenhouse farms could be harming Lake Erie, but Ontario’s Environment Ministry has issued very few fines for potential algae-causing infractions since 2019".

"For a couple of decades at the end of the last century, it seemed like the blue-green algae problem in Lake Erie had been solved, or at least managed, thanks to a concerted cross-border effort. The most southerly Great Lake garnered a bad environmental reputation throughout the 1960s and 1970s, when the lake, more than four times the size of Prince Edward Island, became covered in large, widespread nuisance algae blooms. The causes were many: phosphorus pollution from phosphate-laden detergents, nutrient-rich soil runoff from farmland and inadequate municipal wastewater facilities.

The problem was particularly bad in the lake’s western basin, where warm, shallow waters encouraged eutrophication, or excessive growth of algae and plants, which blocked sunlight and consumed vast quantities of dissolved oxygen. The resulting damage to aquatic plant and animal populations was so bad the scientific community declared western Lake Erie “dead,” a catastrophe name-dropped in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax ... .

Like the Lorax, Lake Erie’s story seemed to have a happy ending. Governments on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border and the international research community took action, focussing on phosphorus, the main driver of algae blooms. In 1978, an agreement was made to reduce total phosphorus loading into Lake Erie to 11,000 metric tons annually."

Matt McIntosh reports for The Narwhal October 16, 2023.

Source: The Narwhal, 10/17/2023