Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Michigan DEQ releases draft plan to reduce phosphorus discharges in Lake Erie

Lake Erie
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) this week issued its draft Michigan Implementation Plan for the Western Lake Erie Basin Collaborative.

Public comments on the plan are being accepted until December 7. A public meeting about the plan will be held December 1 at the Monroe Middle School Auditorium in Monroe. 

While the state has been working since the 1960s to revive Lake Erie, Gov. Rick Snyder renewed Michigan’s commitment to phosphorus reduction in the lake and its surrounding watersheds when he signed the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement this June. Joined by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Tayor, Snyder agreed to work towards a 40 percent reduction in Lake Erie’s total load for phosphorus from the 2008 levels, to be achieved in 2025.

To accomplish this reduction, the DEQ’s plan focuses on the Detroit River, the River Raisin and Michigan’s segment of the Maumee River basin. The state will uphold the current, reduced level of discharges from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and work toward similar reductions at the Wayne County Downriver Wastewater Treatment Plan through stricter permitting laws.

The state will also work with Indiana and Ohio to determine how they can reduce discharges into the Maumee River basin. Additionally, the DEQ will work to better understand harmful algal blooms in the lake and how those blooms are caused by invasive mussel species.

 Finally, the DEQ will study the 36 percent reduction of phosophorus levels in the River Raisin and see how nutrient load reductions impact water quality fluctuations based on location and season.

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