Great Lakes Advisory Board Teleconference May 21, 22 for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.. Registration information attached
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.
Recent 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.
Lake Erie 2012 algae as researched by the NOAA Great Lakes Research Laboratory. Scroll down to August 6 where the yellow on the west side is in the thermal plume of the Monroe Detroit Edison plant where the algae first appears. The plant uses 1.9 billion gallons of water per day that is heated about ten degrees warmer than the intake water. The excess nutrients in these waters probably come from the Detroit wastewater plant that discharges an estimated over 3,000 pounds of phosphorus into Lake Erie daily. Also, as you scroll up through the dates you will see large algae plumes east of Sandusky Bay and also along the Ontario shoreline. These algae plumes may be caused by the internal load – sediments deposited in Lake Erie through the years shifting east in 2011 with the heavy rains.
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 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued the NPDES permit March 1, 2013. Lake Erie Waterkeeper and other organizations signed on to comments for improvements to the discharge permit. All aspects of the permit are under review.
The next Cleveland Lake Erie Waterkeeper will be April 24th – stay tuned for details.
The next Toledo Lake Erie Waterkeeper meeting is May 9 at 7 pm at the Toledo Yacht Club at 3900 N. Summit. It is spring, the walleye are beginning to run in the Maumee River, there is a lot of rain, and lake levels are down. There is much to share. Efforts are underway to ask for a Healthy Lake Erie Fund for Lake Erie monitoring in Columbus for the next two year budget. The Detroit wastewater NPDES permit has been issued and Ohio is proposing new Ohio Revised Code language for agricultural practices as it relates to Lake Erie. Meetings are open to the public.
The International Joint Commission is working on Annex 4 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which will make recommendations on the Lake Erie algae problems. Similarly, the State of Ohio Phosphorus Task force is to deliver a report to Governor Kasich on steps to resolving the Lake Erie algae problem.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement assigns the task of developing recommendations on a wide variety of threats to the Great Lakes to the Internation Joint Commission which has representation from the US and Canada.
Asian Carp eDNA were found in Sandusky and Maumee Bays. Recent studies suggest that the eDNA may not indicate live carp. Storm sewers, fisheries sampling gear, fish-eating birds, dead fish carcasses, barges, and sediments may contribute to a positive eDNA detection without a live fish being present. 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.
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.