New study examines the dangers of algae blooms

Aug 14, 2014

A report from two Canadian groups offers a harsh assessment of the future water quality of the Great Lakes. The findings indicate that major work is needed to stop the proliferation of toxic algae blooms.

The Canadian group Environmental Defence joined Freshwater Future in a study on the water quality of the Great Lakes.

The primary causes of the blooms are no secret: agricultural runoff and overflow from aging sewage treatment plants.

A new report from Canadian environmental groups Environmental Defence and Freshwater Future says urgent and basic action is needed. Environmental Defence Water Program Manager Nancy Goucher says it won't be cheap and there has to be action in Ontario on the Canadian side and in the states on the U.S. side.

"We are seeing the impacts of the algal blooms much more predominantly in Lake Erie and in parts of Lake Ontario," Goucher said.

"But, the point is that what we are doing on our landscape is affecting  our waters and we're seeing that in a really visible way through these algae blooms. And, so we need to be changing the way we manage our landscapes, across the board."

Goucher says Lake Erie is hit so hard because there is so much agricultural runoff from farms in both countries. She says governments have to spend more money on sewer systems and sewage treatment plans and on helping farmers cut down on runoff.