Reducing Phosphorus in Lake Erie
The Hoosier Environmental Council, along with 53 other public interest groups from across the Great Lakes Basin, are deeply concerned about the drinking water of 11 million Americans & Canadians who rely on western Lake Erie as their source. In the run up to the Council of Great Lakes Governors Summit, we have urged the Governor to make a concrete commitment to reduce phosphorus contaminating this vulnerable basin by 40%.
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Indiana’s Impacts on Western Lake Erie
The Western Lake Erie Basin spans 8.3 million acres and has tributaries that run through Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Chief among the major rivers draining into the Basin is the Maumee. While the Maumee River only carries 5 percent of the water that flows into Lake Erie, it includes 80 percent of the phosphorus load. Around 20 percent of the Maumee River watershed lies in Indiana, including more than 820,000 acres. One of the most prevalent challenges facing the Basin today is an overloading of nutrients, in particular phosphorus, which comes mainly from agricultural fields and sewage overflows. Smaller amounts may also come from leaking septic systems and fertilizers from residential lawns and golf courses. This nutrient loading causes massive algae blooms and leads to dirty beaches, fish kills, and a growing dead zone in the central basin. (Source: The Nature Conservancy)
Please refer to our Nutrient Pollution fact sheet for more information on the impact of excess nitrogen and phosphorus in our water.