State officials in Ohio want to list parts of the Lake Erie shoreline and drinking water intakes in the lake as impaired. They want to do this because of the toxic blooms of cyanobacteria that have been growing on the lake every year. The blooms are fueled by excess nutrients, mostly phosphorus, that get into the lake from farms and sewage treatment plants.
An impaired listing under the Clean Water Act sets pollution limits and outlines what has to happen to clean up that pollution.
Sediment in Lake Erie, once thought to be safe, could now pose a threat to life in the lake.
Officials at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are tracking a collection of pollutants in the lake that are at unsafe concentrations.
The source is a deposit of dredged material from the U.S. Army Corps, put there decades ago – so long ago the pile was "legacied in" before the Clean Water Act passed in 1972. Testing from the Corps indicated the sediment was safe and stationary.
It will take big changes to current farming practices to reduce phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie.
According to a new study by the University of Michigan Water Center, stronger measures are needed to achieve the 40 percent drop from 2008 runoff levels agreed to last month by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
Phosphorous from farm fertilizers feed the kind of toxin-producing algae blooms that contaminated Toledo's drinking water in 2014 and caused a two day shut down of the city's tap water.
TOLEDO, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard says crews have completed an effort to eliminate environmental threats from a sunken barge that apparently sat undiscovered in Lake Erie for nearly 80 years.
Salvage crews recently pumped hazardous, oil-based substances from the barge, though six of the eight tanks onboard were empty. The Coast Guard said Thursday that the mixture of cargo and water removed from the site near the U.S.-Canadian border totaled over 33,000 gallons.
Wayne County's wastewater treatment plant will soon have to reduce the amount of phosphorus it dumps into the Detroit River.
It's part of the state's plan to lower phosphorus levels in Lake Erie to control cyanobacteria blooms.
Bill Creal is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says the new permit for Wayne County will be the same as the permit given to Detroit Water and Sewerage last year, which was more successful at reducing phosphorus than anyone envisioned.
The Coast Guard says it has not found any active oil leaks from a 78-year-old shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Erie. The wreck site is 12 miles northeast of Sandusky.
The tank barge is believed to be the Argo. Records show it was carrying about 100,000 gallons of crude oil when it sank. No one knows what's still on board, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers the Argo to be the biggest pollution threat from a shipwreck in the Great Lakes.
The Coast Guard is sending out a crew from Station Marblehead in Ohio along with members of the Atlantic Strike Team from New Jersey to the wreck site this morning. They'll start doing air monitoring at the site.
Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher M. Yaw says the team will work to get a "good, clean sample" of the unknown substance that appears to be leaking from the barge so they can identify it.
The federal government is offering farmers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan $17 million dollars to cut back on pollution that runs off their farms into Lake Erie.
That's after toxic bacteria linked to farm runoff shut down Toledo's drinking water for a few days this past summer.
This is a totally voluntary program. If a farmer wants to apply for money to do things like plant strips of grass or cover crops to absorb and filter pollutants, now the pot of potential funding just got a little bigger.
Michigan Congresswoman Candice Miller says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency needs to do more to help cities deal with toxic cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie.
"Particularly when they see something where you have an entire region could not utilize their own drinking water supply," says Miller, referring to a two-day shutdown of Toledo's water supply in August.
That connection between the Hudson River in New York and Lake Erie became extremely important to Michigan, which at the time of its construction was on the road to statehood.
Dan Ward is curator of the Erie Canal Museum. He says the Erie Canal was incredibly influential on the history of Michigan. “Prior to the Erie Canal, in order to get to Michigan, you had to go over a mountain range,” Ward says. The canal allowed settlers to travel to Michigan much more easily and quickly than a journey over land.
If you go out in western Lake Erie right now, you'll see us.
We turn the water green. The wakes of the boats -- normally a frothy white -- we turn them a frothy green.
We've been at it for billions of years, and the more you feed us (thank you farmers and the people of metro Detroit), the more we multiply in your warm slow moving waters. But when experts and reporters talk about us, they call us "toxic algae."
Algae? Seriously? Just because we look like plant-scum growing in the water doesn't mean that's what we are.
We are the only kind of bacteria that can release the microsystin toxin into water supplies.