Lake Erie Waterkeeper

The next Lake Erie Waterkeeper meeting is Thursday, November 9 at 7 pm at Packo’s in downtown Toledo. The October meeting is cancelled and may be replaced by a conference call. All meetings are open to the public. Meetings area a round table discussion about Lake Erie. Lake Erie Waterkeeper is part of the Lake Erie Foundation – visit the foundation web site at

Please attend the Toledo Council meeting Oct. 16 and support the impaired resolution.

Ohio draft Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan

USEPA allows Ohio not to declare Lake Erie impaired. Wins on the Clean Water Impaired designation. Michigan DEQ declared Michigan’s Lake Erie open waters ‘Impaired’ under the Clean Water Act. Michigan DEQ ImpairedMichigan Lake Erie Impaired

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Debbie Dingle ask USEPA to have Ohio’s western Lake Erie waters declared Kaptur Dingle Lake Erie Impaired

Information Limno Tech. the consultant advising Toledo on water and wastewater policies, represented agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay fight to stop the Clean Water Act TMDL.  Here is the report: Chesapeake Science Advisory Board Limno Tech Assessment April 2011 Ohio has released a Draft Plan to reduce algae in Lake Erie. Comments are due June 25, 2016. Draft Ohio Western Lake Erie Implementation Plan Comments due June 25Suggested public comments coming soon. The University of Michigan has released A Lake Erie Agriculture Algae Assessment which talks about what it will take in the Maumee watershed to get the 40% reduction. March 18, 2016 Lake Erie Waterkeeper Confernece presentations go to: Presentations from the Lake Erie Forum, Friday, December 11 at Catawba Island Club are at Join Lake Erie Waterkeeper for stream testing before and after heavy rains in two locations. Lake Erie Waterkeeper is working with the Rotary Club on stream sampling throughout the western Lake Erie watershed. This is an opportunity to discover changes in streams with simple test strips. For more information click here.Stream Water TestingNOAA states that 2015 was another record year for algae in Lake Erie.2015 Lake Erie record breaking algae year Email Kirby at for more information, To reduce algae in Lake Erie the sources and amounts of nutrients that make the harmful algae must be identified. Lucas County and the City of Toledo are identifying harmful algae sources and amounts, thank you. Ohio Beach Advisory for ecoli(sewage) There is a dfferent web site for algae warningins –  Ohio Harmful Algae beach and microcystin data.  Click on links on right hand side.  The beach advisory is here along with statewide microcystin data for water intakes and beaches.  Toledo water intake data continuous monitor.  Toledo water intake data  view here Toledo water intake – water around view nowNOAA Lake Erie current satellite image - Best source for updated information on where the algae in Lake Erie is. Toled water intake water buoy now Source information on the algae causes needed.  More hogs and more poultry coming the Lake Erie watershed and more manure to wash into Lake Erie – more to come. Lake Erie Water Conference March 20, 2015 presentations:.  Pam Taylor, ECCSM, Manure            Bill Stowe, Des Moines, Iowa Senate Bill One signed into law.. The bill bans fertilizer and manure applciations on frozen ground, bans fertilizer applications if there is a 50% chance of an inch or more of rain within twenty four hours, and bans manure applications when there is a 50% chance of one-hald inch of rain withing twenty four hours.  There is also a ban on open lake dumping by 2020 with some allowances for Toledo.  And wastewater plants processing one million or more gallons of water per day will be required to reduce phosphorus in the discharge  to 1 ppm and will be required to test for total and dissolved phosphorus.  Federal legislation is generally addressing the drinking water issues and testing – some additonal for algae research.  Still no overall management for the at least 40% phosphgorus reductions needed and the amount of phosphorus by source – which other areas with algae have. There was a lakewide plan for the recovery of Lake Erie  – Water Qaulity & Management Lake Erie Basin 1969 and Lake Erie Recovery Mathematical Model 1975 -  these were reports/plans that put Lake Erie on the path to recovery in the 1960′s and 1970′s.  Ohio Governor Rhodes was a leader in developing the plan along with State of Michigan officials. There were phosphorus reductions for each state, ongoing conferences with assessing changes etc. USEPA needs to work with the governors of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York to update these reports/plans to get Lake Erie Healthy again.  These reports site the importance of mass balance -knowing the amount of phosphorus coming into Lake Erie from Lake Huron and going out to Lake Ontario and the amount of nutrients and oxygen in the sediments and understanding the role of the Detroit River which is 90% of the water in Lake Erie. Cleveland Waterkeeper Conference October 2014 presentations: Talking to Elected Officials, Jane Goodman, Storm Water- Dave White, Lake Erie – Sandy Bihn, Agriculture - Larry Antosch, Chesapeake - Emily Collins, Lake Erie Central Basin – Robert Heath Full Army Corp Sediment/Dredging Report August 2014 This report reflects data collected from the sediments in both the dredged and undredged areas near the shipping channel in Maumee Bay and the far Western Basin of Lake Erie.  The tests show extremely high levels of phosphorus in the ‘top layer’ of the sediments.  See this chart that shows how much of the phosphorous is coming from sediments deposited in the lake over the years.  Internal Western Lake Erie load from Army Corps dredge report August 2014. Thanks to all who attended, helped and sponsored the Maumee Bay River Festival.  It was a great day on the river, the canoeing, kayaking, boat tours, fish encounters was terrific. TOLEDO DO NOT DRINK THE WATER -TOXIN MICROCYSTIN Early in the morning on August 2nd, 2014 Toledo notified water users not to drink the water because levels of microcystin exceeded drinking water standards with 3.1ppb compared to the 1ppb set by the World Health Organization. Although, Toledo water users were told not to come in contact with the water, the levels of toxins in the water did not meet or exceed the contact standard set by Ohio EPA of 6 parts per billion or the World Health Organization 20 ppb. Recommendations: Federal government needs to set a microcystin drinking water standard along with testing and treatment recommendations; there needs to be an annual report card that clearly states how much phosphorus going into the lake has been reduced and where in the previous year; there needs to be federal agency coordination and a go to Lake Erie federal representative who works with states, universities, local governments and other organizations. The World Health Organization standard is 1.0 ppb. The State of Minnesota is .041 parts per billion for at risk populations. The federal government has not set standards, or testing and treatment protocol.  There are suggestions from some in the science community that the standard should be .5 parts per billion to protect public health.  Public drinking water supplies need microcystin federal guidance and standards.  Toledo and other public drinking water plants have been testing voluntarily for microcystin for years to protect public drinking water supplies. Sources of Lake Erie algae that need to be reduced from nearshore and tributaries are: fertilizer, wastewater, manure and storm water and also failing septic systems, lawn fertilizer, etc.  There needs to be a Lake Erie Algae Reduction Plan with clearly defined goals, annual reductions, and annual report cards.  For more information go to the Lake Erie and microcystin links. The first observed algae in 2014 was in the Luna Pier/North Cape area is spreading throughout western basin.  Lake Erie algae prediction 2014, another article Algae Article Star Beacon and Bihn Letter to Editor Toledo Blade Growing numbers of sea lamprey are being observed in the western basin of Lake Erie.  Fishermen report finding one now and then over the last five years but this year have seen as many as they did in the last couple of years.  US Fish and Wildlife is looking into the increased and will be doing testing in the Portage River and other locations this seasons.  One hypothesis is that there is a growing sea lamprey population in the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair which are making their way down to Lake Erie. Ballville Dam removal in Fremont was approved by voters in November 2015. There remains a Sierra Club law suit to delay or stopn the project. A Balanced Diet for Lake Erie report by the International Joint Commissionrecommends a Total Maximum Daily Load, Bans on applications on frozen ground, drinking water standards for microcystin and more… Press Release Ohio Senate Bill 150 was signed into law by Governor Kasich without any mention of manure.  The bill requires certification for fertilizer and also farmers are required to prepare volunteer nutrient management plans.  The bill does not have any requirements for manure… The Ohio Phosphorus Task Force 2 Report  Efforts are underway to reintroduce sturgeon to the Maumee River.  A joint effort with ODNR., U.S.FWS. Metroparks, the zoo, the Blade, retired fish biologist, charter captains and waterkeepers planning the reintriduction. Sturgeon are native and  can live over 100 ears and do not reproduce until 15-20 years old. The reintroduction is targeted for 2015. Microcystin continues to be in water intakes in western Lake Erie when harmful algae is observable in the lake.  Toledo and other communities treated the algae to make the water safe for drinking.  The cost of treating algae for Toledo is $3-4 million.  See article.   Carroll Township serving about 2000 customers shut down September 5, 2013  because of the toxin microcystin which tested  at levels three times the recommendation of the World Health Organization.  For several articles click here. In 2013 Lake Erie algae started in early July along the southern shores of Ontario and in the center of the Central Basin.  By late July the algae was blooming in Maumee Bay and the far western basin and along the Michigan shoreline.  Detroit sewage continues to flow to Lake Erie, click here for article.  The blooms spread east in August and are now in the area of the islands.  The algae on the shores of Maumee Bay State Park have been tested positive for toxins.   Also this year, there appears to be visible algae coming out of the Detroit River, especially on the Canadian side.  Excessive algae lowers water quality and decreases sport fish populations.  Ohio EPA has a good algae web site which includes beach advisories.  Click here for ecoli beach advisories. Click here for August algae picture.  Ohio Senate Bill 150 is in committee.  The bill was significantly weakened.  One amendment by Senator Randy Gardner to provide $1.5 million to find alternatives to open lake dumping is helpful to Lake Erie. The   2013 study by the Carnegie Institute states storm intensity and agricultural practices are the main culprits for the algae problem in Lake Erie.   Monitoring in Lake Erie and at tributary outfalls is needed to determine if changing practices to reduce algae are working.  In particular, monitoring is needed in the Detroit River which has ‘three streams’.  Detroit’s center stream is the water coming from Lake Huron which supplies over 80% of the water to Lake Erie.  The ‘western stream’ on the Detroit side and ‘eastern stream’ on the Ontario side flow into Lake Erie with much higher phosphorous concentrations than the Huron ‘stream’.  There is little known about these phosphorous sources to Lake Erie.  Articles in the New York Times and elsewhere suggest that 2013 will be a bad algae year. You can help reduce algae/phosphorus Lake Erie at your home by doing the attached.  You can also help reduce nutrients/algae in Lake Erie by writing your elected official.  A sample letter is attached. One form of Asian Carp, grassy carp is reproducing in the Sandusky River according to O.D.N.R. and ohers.  Alsom information from Notre Dame suggest that Asian Carp are probably establishing in the western basin of Lake Eire.  The findings are similar to a  study by Purdue University which says that Asian Carp may have more of an opportunity to establish in the Great Lakes than once thought. The Detroit Wastewater plant processes 1/2 of all the wastewater in the State of Michigan and is the single largest source of phosphorous to Lake Erie, and the single largest wastewater plant in the US located at the southwest tip of the Detroit River where it meets Lake Erie.  The Detroit Wastewater plant contributes over 5% of Lake Erie’s total phosphorus load and over 13% of Lake Erie’s dissolved reactive phosphorus. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement assigns the task of developing recommendations on a wide variety of threats to the Great Lakes to the International Joint Commission which has representation from the US and Canada. Silver caprt eDNA was found in the Maumee River.  Recent studies suggest that the eDNA may or may nit indicate live carp.   In July test results from 2011 showed 4 Big Head Carp eDNA samples in Sandusky Bay and 2 Silver Carp eDNA samples in Maumee Bay – Michigan portion.   ODNR’s August 2012 results show 20 positive eDNA hits out of 150 samples in Sandusky Bay for silver carp.  There is no plan for getting rid of the carp if they establish in Lake Erie.   Click here for UTube how to identify Asian Carp. Video on detecting algae To learn about how Lake Erie was managed for its comeback, read Lake Erie Water Quality 1970-1982 A Management Assessment Report.  Issues addressed include: water quantity & water levels; page 9 discusses circulation and the impacts from the Detroit River; Nutrients, page 61 about the Maumee and Detroit Rivers …’even though the Maumee has more concentrated nutrients; the Detroit is more influential because of its volume’; 80% of the phosphorous discharged to Lake Erie falls out into the sediments. Heavy rains and winds in 2011 stirred up sediments in the lake aiding algae growth. Detroit Wastewater sewage sludge dumped into Lake Erie from 2009 through 2011 fueled algae.

Lake Erie has 872 mile shoreline stretches along the shores of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. The lake is the source of drinking water for 11 million people. Lake Erie is threatened by growing algae blooms(excess nutrients), invasives including Asian Carp, water withdrawals and water level changes(man made and nature) and climate change. Lake Erie Waterkeeper seeks to serve Lake Erie’s waters and its tributaries through education, advocacy, outreach and collaboration. Join our efforts for these great waters.