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Canada and Ontario launch public consultations on draft action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie

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Canada and Ontario launch public consultations on draft action plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie

Proposed action plan to achieve phosphorus reductions in Lake Erie from Canadian sources

Today, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario have released a draft action plan that will help to reduce high amounts of phosphorus and the growth of toxic and nuisance algae in Lake Erie.

Reducing the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie is the best way to minimize algal blooms, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. While phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plant and animal life, scientists have identified that excess phosphorus is the cause of algal blooms in the lake.

Phosphorus enters Lake Erie from many sources, including runoff from urban centres, agricultural lands, sewage treatment plants, airborne particles, septic systems, and industrial discharges. This draft plan identifies actions that can be taken by the governments of Canada and of Ontario, municipalities, conservation authorities, Indigenous communities, and partners in key sectors, such as agriculture and industry, to achieve the goal of reducing phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40 percent.

Stakeholders and community members are encouraged to comment on the draft action plan before May 9, 2017. This input will inform the final action plan for the Canadian side of Lake Erie.

Quick Facts

  • The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on Earth—holding 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water.
  • Ontario’s Great Lakes Basin is home to 40 percent of Canada’s economic activity and 95 percent of Ontario’s agricultural land.
  • Most Ontarians get their drinking water from the Great Lakes Basin.
  • Lake Erie is the shallowest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes, and it receives high loads of phosphorus, making it highly sensitive to harmful blue-green and nuisance algal blooms.
  • Algal blooms impact the enjoyment of the lake for millions of people in the region.
  • Through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States are committed to finalizing domestic action plans for Lake Erie, by February 2018.
  • The draft action plan supports Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act.

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“Water connects us all. We intrinsically understand its importance, and we all have a reason to be invested in its protection. I encourage Canadians, especially those within the Great Lakes Basin, to participate in these consultations that will inform our collaborative actions to protect Lake Erie.”

Catherine McKenna

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Great Lakes support a rich array of ecosystems and are an important part of Ontario’s strength and success. Part of Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act, this proposed action plan to reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Erie is based on collaboration with our partners to ensure that Lake Erie remains drinkable, swimmable, and fishable.”

Glen Murray

Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

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