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IJC calls for better coordination on toxic blooms on Lake Erie

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

An advisory board with the International Joint Commission says the U.S. and Canada should do more to keep nutrient pollution out of Lake Erie.

The IJC is a treaty organization that advises the two governments. The group’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board just released a couple of reports for public comment.

Phosphorus from farms and cities fuel toxic green blooms of cyanobacteria on the lake every year. Michigan, Ohio and Ontario have agreed to cut phosphorus by 40% by 2025.

Sandy Bihn is the executive director of the Lake Erie Foundation, and a member of the IJC's water quality board. She says she wants to see better accountability, and ways to measure progress.

"Here's the watersheds that are achieving the reductions; here's the ones that need some work," says Bihn. "Giving credit to those that are achieving part of the percentage of the reduction and calling out those that aren't, so that we really have an accountable mechanism and a reportable mechanism on which to base 'Lake Erie's getting better.'"

The reports call for the two countries to do a better job coordinating their plans to cut pollution.

Sally Cole-Misch is with the IJC. She says they want to see a lake-wide management plan.

“We’re calling for an entire basin-wide one that looks at the western, the central and the eastern basins of Lake Erie and really puts a coordinated effort and that would be a first,” she says.

The IJC is taking public commenton its reports until March 7. Then, it’ll send them to both governments.

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