September 01, 2015 11:46 ET

WWF Supports Strong Recommendations to Fight Algae in Lake Erie

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - September 01, 2015) - Harmful algal blooms have been steadily increasing in Lake Erie over the past decade, posing a threat to drinking water, the economy, and the environment. Phosphorus is a key nutrient in aquatic systems, but excess phosphorous is the leading cause of the increase in the harmful blue-green algae that is becoming more common in the Great Lakes. To combat this growing concern, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA 2012) Nutrients Annex Subcommittee, a collaboration between Canadian and U.S. governments, released new phosphorous targets recommending a 40 per cent reduction in phosphorus loads entering Lake Erie's central and western basins.

WWF-Canada, in collaboration with Freshwater Future, Freshwater Future Canada, Ohio Environmental Council, Environmental Defence and Alliance for the Great Lakes, have reviewed the Recommended Binational Phosphorus Targets To Combat Lake Erie Algae Blooms and have provided feedback in a joint, bi-national submission. The feedback suggests, among other things, that to make a significant impact in the reduction of algal blooms, the subcommittee needs to include targets for Lake Erie's eastern basin and set achievable timeframes to meet these targets.

"We applaud the GLWQA Nutrients Annex Subcommittee for recommending a 40 per cent phosphorus reduction target for Lake Erie. It is a step in the right direction and aligns with our vision to see all Canadian waters in good condition by 2025," said David Miller, CEO, WWF-Canada. "We are at a critical point where effective measures need to take place in order to control the resurgence of algal blooms threatening the health of Lake Erie. To make an impact we must do all we can. Targets need to be extended to the Eastern basin to get the restoration of Lake Erie underway. By developing a more widespread approach, we will be able to address this issue head-on."

The joint submission by the trans-border group included the following key recommendations:

  • A 40 per cent reduction target be established for the eastern basin of Lake Erie, at least on an interim basis.
  • Ensure science and research focus on determining the sources of phosphorous entering Lake Erie, focusing on priority tributaries.
  • Set a clear date to achieve the targets. The Governors of Ohio and Michigan and the Premier of Ontario recently signed an agreement to achieve a 40 percent reduction of phosphorus loading into Lake Erie by 2025.

Toxic and harmful algal bloom occurrences in Lake Erie are caused by excess runoff and are among the top threats to the Great Lakes, posing risks to drinking supplies, quality of life and economic vitality.

"We appreciate the opportunity to make recommendations to this important initiative that will impact the water quality of Lake Erie," said James Snider, Acting VP, Freshwater, WWF-Canada. "In our assessment of the Great Lakes watershed, for our recent Watershed Reports , we found that within the rivers and streams of the Northern Erie sub-watershed, phosphorus levels exceeded water quality guidelines in over 70 per cent of water samples taken between 2008 and 2012. This is quite alarming. We hope that with the additional measures and collaboration among partners and governments, we will begin to see improvements."

More detailed findings are available on WWF-Canada's website:

About WWF

WWF-Canada is part of WWF (World Wildlife Fund), one of the world's largest and most respected conservation organizations. WWF-Canada has close to 50 years of experience implementing science-based knowledge and research into on-the-ground projects. WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature thrive. Visit for more information.

Contact Information

  • For further information contact

    Rowena Calpito
    Communications Specialist - Freshwater
    416-489-4567 ext.7267