If you lived in Michigan in the 1960s and '70s, you will remember: Lake Erie was on the "critical list." It was once declared dead.
But it got back on the road to health and recovery until the mid-1990s.
That's when the lake started showing signs of distress, with large cyanobacteria blooms (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae blooms) and dead zones showing up again.
Now comes a report from an international agency that keeps a close eye on the health of the Great Lakes, and it is a clarion call to action. Among the agencies contributing to the report is the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan.
Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, joined us today.
Listen to the full interview above.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to "algae blooms" in Lake Erie. These are really bacterial blooms (cyanobacteria) that look like algae. The copy has been clarified above.
Massive blooms of cyanbacteria (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae) and dead zones in Lake Erie: These used to be major environmental problems around the most urbanized Great Lake back in the '60s and '70s, but they are problems once again.
Now, an international agency that keeps an eye on the health of the Great Lakes is calling for more action.
The International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency, wants sharp cutbacks on phosphorus runoff getting into Lake Erie.
Imagine walking down a picturesque beach along Lake Michigan, and stumbling upon the carcasses of dead birds. That’s a very real and unpleasant problem along Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie. (It’s not as big of an issue in Lake Superior because of the lake’s colder water temperatures.)
Loons and other deep-diving birds are suffering from a disease called avian botulism. It’s form of food poisoning that kills wild birds in the Great Lakes ecosystem.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers plans to make Lake Erie the focus of discussions next year.
State Sens. Randy Gardner, a Bowling Green Republican, and Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Hubbard, say the Lake Erie Caucus will meet in January to address state and federal policies related to the body of water.
The group will look at ways to preserve the environmental health of the lake and to work on related economic growth and tourism issues.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Food supplies for fish and other organisms are declining in some areas of the Great Lakes, particularly Lakes Huron and Michigan, according to a newly released scientific report.
He also spoke about how, unlike the other four Great Lakes, Lake Erie is surrounded by agriculture and a more urbanized landscape.
You can listen to him speak about his "50 and 2 Rule" here:
Lake Erie has seen a resurgence in blooms of cyanobacteria (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae) over the last ten years. It was once a big problem in the 60s and 70s, and it has returned as a problem again.
For years Lake Erie has been the poster child in the Great Lakes for the problem of toxic algae.
More recently, though, the problem has been showing up farther north around Lake Michigan.
Figuring out the causes of the algal blooms can be tough since watersheds are complex systems but some environmentalists are pointing the finger at corn. It’s a valuable cash crop today and could be a growing part of the farm landscape in the Great Lakes in the years ahead.
An interview with Don Scavia, an aquatic ecologist with the University of Michigan and the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute.
There's a "dead zone" in Green Bay.
That may sound like a title of a Stephen King novel, but it is happening in Lake Michigan's Green Bay. A growing dead zone with so little oxygen that fish can't survive. Neither can smaller critters.
Don Scavia is an aquatic ecologist with the University of Michigan and the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. He joined us today to talk about what’s causing this dead zone and what can be done to fix it.
Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is developing dead zones similar to those found in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. In these zones, the oxygen content in the water is so low, virtually no fish, insects, or worms can survive.
According to a report by the Associated Press, in a public webinar on Thursday scientists said the dead zone may cover as much as 40% of the Bay. Tracy Valenta, a water resources specialist for the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District, said that the zone starts approximately eight miles northeast of the city and may extend more than 30 miles.
“People have suggested that species diversity might increase the efficiency of algal biofuel systems, but nobody has set up the experiments to test it directly. These will be the first experiments to systematically manipulate the number and types of species in the system to determine how to maximize the yield and stability of algal biofuel,” said ecologist and team leader Bradley Cardinale.