Sustaining Lake Erie

KidsWithPerch
  • Support Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding – Currently $300
  • Get the Asian Carp barrier designed and funded
  • Assess health impacts from cyanobacteria
  • Assess and if feasible reintroduce sturgeon in the Cuyahoga River
  • Expand efforts for Erie Marsh protection and public access
  • Require Accountability for dollars given to agriculture to reduce nutrients – pay for testing in nearby stream before and after funding
  • Change the focus for agriculture Best Management Practices (BMP’s) from ordinary runoff to BMP’s for heavy rain runoff. Heavy rain nutrient runoff is 80% of the source of the agricultural runoff that causes the Lake Erie harmful algae.
  • Establish cyanobacteria, PFAS and other standards for drinking water
  • Seek applying the Clean Water Act Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and implementation plan for Western Lake Erie
  • Have the same soil phosphorous standards for commercial fertilizer and manure – currently commercial fertilizer is 40 ppm (crop need) and manure is 150 ppm(saturation)
  • Require that confined animal operations report the number of animals to a registry and the amount of land and location where the manure is applied

Algae

Informing Lake Erie Agriculture Nutrient Management via Scenario Evaluation – University of Michigan Study

See Lake Erie from the satellite daily.  This provides daily satellite imagery of Lake Erie where you can easily see where the algae/ice are. 

For updated algae, beach warnings and microcystin readings: Ohio EPA Beach Algae warnings and microcystin readings at intakes and beaches – click on excel spreadsheet on the right.  To see if a beach is ok: Current Ohio Beach Conditions.  For Western Lake Erie readings – in the season for  microcystin click on West Erie microcystin NOAA testing

Most important to reduce Lake Erie algae is to declare the western basin and if possible the central basins ‘ImpaIred’ under the Clean Water Act followed by a Total Maxi,u, Daily Load(TMDL) which will tell us where the nutrients are coming from and how much – ie. wastewater, fertilizer, manure, storm water, failing septic tanks.  Without this baseline data,

Lake Erie- Threatened by Algae

2015 was the worst Lake Erie algae year on record followed by 2011 when the  algae extended from Toledo past Cleveland and along the Ontario shoreline.  The algae was found over ten miles from shore and up to 60’ in depth.  The algae was so bad that it slowed down boat motors.

Lake Erie was the poster child for the Clean Water Act.  The lake is once again plunging into tough times with massive amounts of toxic algae that cost water plants $Thousands daily and threaten the fishery that supports 10,000 jobs and puts the spinoff $1 billion of economic activity at risk.   While the Chesapeake, Mississippi, and Florida/Everglades are addressing nutrients/algae, the Great Lakes, Lake Erie, has no plan/course of action to stop the greening of Lake Erie water.  We need only to look at Ohio’s largest inland lake, Grand Lake St. Marys- 13,000 acres that were so bad in 2010; there was a no-contact advisory and boats were advised to stay out of the water.  WE NEED ACTION TO REDUCE LAKE ERIE NUTRIENTS NOW!

Lake Erie Lyngbya

Lyngbya is a form of algae that was first visible in western Lake Erie in 2006.
Click here for Lyngbya information.

This algae forms hair like massive mats.  By 2007 there were lyngbya island in Maumee Bay – there were pile up on shore up to eight feet deep.  By 2009 the lyngbya was all but gone on the southern shores of Maumee Bay.  The reason for the lyngbya reduction may be Toledo’s installation of storage areas so that the amount of sewage coming into Maumee is substantially reduced.  This is what happened in Highpoint, North Carolina.

Report Algae Sources

Your Part in Reducing Algae in Lake Erie

Report Algae when you see it….

Lake Erie is getting greener every year – the lake waters have too many nutrients(like calories too many is bad).

 

The most growing nutrient(calorie) problem is phosphorous. Phosphorous is in sewage, animal manure, fertilizers, and some products.

 

Here is how you can help:

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  • If you fertilize your lawn, make sure the middle number is 0 for phosphorous(if you have someone do it ask for a phosphorous free application)
  • Catch your stormwater in a rain barrel and use the water to water your lawn, flowers, etc. The rush of water after rain puts too much phosphorous in the water which the algae thrive on
  • Report algae when you see it – please copy sandy@lakeeriewaterkeeper.org Download Form Here!
  • Ask for improvements to the Detroit Wastewater plant – stop sewage sludge from being dumped into the rivers and Lake Erie
  • Ask for Ohio to participate in the Detroit Wastewater NPDES permit
  • Ask USEPA and Michigan DEQ to require the Detroit wastewater plant to stop dumping sewage sludge and raw sewage into Lake Erie.
  • Ask elected officials to require large buildings with pigs, dairy and poultry to treat the manure produced. The industrial type of operations can do what no residential development can do – put the waste in a lagoon and liquid apply it to fields

Asian Carp

The Asian Carp is a Threat to Lake Erie.

Partner Agencies – Management

Bayshore Fish Kills

The Bayshore plant has been the largest fish killing plant in the Great Lakes.(See attached flier)  Although Bayshore is not the largest power plant in western Lake Erie, the plant is located at the mouth of the Maumee River in Maumee Bay.  The plant in the fall draws the entire volume of flow from the Maumee River.  Because the Maumee is Lake Erie’s best spawning river, it then follows that the Bayshore power plant is the largest fish killing power plant in the Great Lakes. The average discharge depth for the historic 750 million gallons a day is but two to three feet.

First Energy/Bayshore announced closing 3 of the 4 units which will reduce water use from 750 mgd to about 182mgd.  The reduction in water use will reduce fish kills – how much is unknown at this time.

Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association

Coke Plant

Coke Plant Facts

The coke plant was proposed near the mouth of the Maumee River and Bay.
Click Here for Coke Plant Facts.

The key contention for the coke plant was mercury emissions, which in a permit issued by OEPA, reduced the mercury requested emission from 550 lbs. per year to 51 pounds per year.

The permit for the coke plant required that construction begin within 18 months which never happened.  Three years later, it appears that the project is dead.

Detroit Wastewater Plant

The Detroit Wastewater Plant is the largest single sewage plant in the USA.

Click here for Detroit Wastewater Plant fact sheet.

The location of the plant on the southeast side Detroit where the sewage wastewater discharge is at the southern end of the Detroit River where it enters into Lake Erie. In the first seven months of 2011, the Detroit wastewater plant dumped nearly 30 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Lake Erie. In the 1970s The Detroit Wastewater Treatment Plant was the single largest contributor of phosphorus to Lake Erie. It may well still be the largest single contributor of phosphorous to Lake Erie.

This regional wastewater treatment plant was constructed in 1940 and treats the waste of over 3 million people in 76 communities. It handles over 700 million gallons of wastewater per day

Detroit Wastewater Plant

  • Primary capacity: 6 million m³/d
  • Secondary capacity: 3.2 million m³/d
  • Average flow:2.6 million m³/d
  • Population served:3 million
  • Area served:946 square miles
  • Secondary treatment type:Activated sludge
  • Solids treatment:Incineration
Lake Erie Waterkeeper Association

USEPA studies show that since 1994, the amount of phosphorous coming out of the Detroit Wastewater Plant has been increasing.(Source USEPA Web site study references) From 2008 through 2010 the Detroit Wastewater plant dumped 67 Billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Lake Erie. It looks like 2011 will be a major CSO year with over 30 billion gallons dumped into Lake Erie from January 1 through August 5.(Source Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Combined Sewer overflow reports).

The Detroit wastewater plant canceled a contract to reduce overflows due to the lack of funding. Also, there are many articles in Michigan papers about corruption in operations if the Detroit wastewater plant. There are reports of failed equipment and under staffing which results in treatment failures. There need to be continuous monitors at the Detroit wastewater outfalls. There are ongoing legal proceedings on this matter. While there are documentations of phosphorous loads at DTWWP in the 1970s, the data is lacking for much of the period beyond. There appears to be no independent analysis of the phosphorous loads from DTWWP to Lake Erie and whether or not DTWWP is meeting the targeted .5 mg/l load. In contrast, other watersheds like the Chesapeake have states like Virginia, addressing phosphorous loading from the wastewater plant discharges, primarily into rivers, by reducing discharges to .1 to .3. Georgia also requires .08 to .3 mg/l with the lower limits required in discharges to sensitive lakes.Phosphorous discharges into Western Lake Erie/Heidelberg/Dolan

Following table prepared by David Baker/Heidelberg presentation on the Detroit River phosphorous contribution. This chart also shows the Detroit River is a significant source of phosphorous.

Open Lake Dumping

The Toledo Shipping Channel  in the shallowest waters of the Great Lakes is the most dredged in the Great Lakes.

Click here for Open Lake Dumping charts.

The Army Corps of Engineers currently dredges about 650,000 cubic yards of sediments of which almost all are open lake dumped in about 22′ of water.  The sediments in Maumee River and Maumee Bay used to be designated as contaminated and in need of confined disposal.  Since 2003, the Corps determined the sediments suitable   for open lake disposal – the cheapest alternative.  The Corps assessment does not include an assessment of the impacts of nutrient resuspension and algae growth caused by the sediments.