EPA report: Lake Erie in 'poor condition'

A report published by Canada and the Environmental Protection Agency says that Lake Erie is in poor condition and its trend is deteriorating.

According to the 2017 State of the Great Lakes report, Lake Erie is in the worst condition of the Great Lakes, as all other lakes were in at least fair condition with unchanging trends or better.

Overall, the Great Lakes are considered in fair condition with unchanging trends. The report says the overall drinking water is good and the beaches are fair to good.

Fish consumption, toxic chemicals, habitats and species, nutrients and algae, groundwater quality and watershed impacts are ranked as fair.

The invasive species status is considered poor and in deteriorating condition.

The health of the Great Lakes is assessed by the Canadian and U.S. governments. A set of nine indicators of ecosystem health is assessed via 44 sub-indicators that measure components like contaminants in the water and fish tissue, changes in quality and abundance of wetland habitat and the introduction and spread of invasive species. 

But a lake-by-lake breakdown says Lake Erie is suffering from harmful algae blooms resulting from excessive nutrient inputs and invasive species.

Lake Erie also suffers from beach closures, habitat degradation, low oxygen conditions and depleted dissolved oxygen conditions.

Regardless, the report says Lake Erie's ecosystems are seeing positive trends, such as an increase in its walleye population and increased aquatic habitat connectivity. As a result, Lake Erie is the most biologically productive of the Great Lakes and carries the biggest sport fishing industry.

Development can lead to land-based pressures on the Great Lakes ecosystem, particularly in the higher-populated areas. The report says forest cover improves water quality and Lake Erie ranked lowest at 31 percent. 

Sen. Sherrod Brown released the following statement in response to the report:

“As a kid, I can remember how polluted Lake Erie was. This report demonstrates that, while we have made huge strides in cleaning up our Great Lakes, there is still more to do. I will continue to work with my Ohio colleagues – Republicans and Democrats alike -- to protect Lake Erie from dangerous proposals to zero out the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Any cuts to Great Lakes funding threatens the health of Lake Erie and the millions of Ohioans who rely on it, putting jobs and our water supply at risk.” 

Click here to view the full report.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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