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Going farther to fix Lake Erie and the streams that feed it

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
A cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.

A lot of people are focused on trying to fix Lake Erie’s toxic bloom problem. The green cyanobacteria blooms are fueled by phosphorus that gets into the lake from farms and sewage treatment plants.

A new reportsays we need to focus a lot more on cleaning up the streams in Michigan and other states that feed the lake.

Stuart Ludsin is an author of the report and an associate professor at Ohio State University. He says too much sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen can also hurt the fish in streams.

“The bottom line is that this nutrient pollution is causing a problem not only in downstream Lake Erie but in the streams itself,” he says.

Michigan, Ohio and Ontario have agreed to cut phosphorus by 40% by 2025.

“The hope would be that efforts to clean up Lake Erie which have garnered a lot of attention would also potentially do a win-win situation where not only does the lake benefit, but those arteries that are supplying nutrients and sediments to the lake also would be cleaned up,” he says.

Ludsin says that means farmers will need to do more to keep soil and nutrients out of streams, but that will cost more.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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