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Group calls for changes to reduce Lake Erie algae

Associated Press • Nov 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Phosphorous from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants feed the algae that leave behind toxins that can kill animals and foul drinking water. A report from the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force will recommend a 40 percent reduction in phosphorous entering the Ohio waterways.

Part of the task force report was released Friday at a conference in Toledo on Lake Erie’s algae problem, The Blade newspaper in Toledo reported.

The task force’s report could affect farmers, sewage plant operators, large land-based businesses such as golf courses, and homeowners who use or manage large amounts of fertilizers. State and federal lawmakers will likely consider the recommendations when deciding whether to add new regulations aimed at improving water quality.

Tom Bridgeman, an associate professor of environmental science and a researcher at the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center, presented a graphic at the conference that showed this year’s bloom went well beyond the Lake Erie islands and spread across more of the lake than expected.

Chris Korleski, who leads the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago, said the task of restoring the Great Lakes will take decades, even with the $1.3 billion allocated since 2010 under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to address issues including algae and invasive species.

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