AP Environmental Writer
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.: A U.S.-Canadian agency is calling for sharp cutbacks in phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie to counter a worsening problem of algae blooms that degrade water quality, harm fish and chase away tourists.
In a report Thursday, the International Joint Commission identifies farm fertilizer as a primary culprit in feeding runaway algae blooms. It recommends placing Lake Erie on a federal impaired waters list, which would activate a plan to limit phosphorus levels.
It particularly targets the Maumee Bay watershed in Ohio and Indiana on the lake’s western side, proposing a 39 percent annual reduction in phosphorus runoff from its tributaries through a combination of regulations and voluntary actions.
Lake Erie’s algae problem has worsened in recent years. The largest bloom ever recorded extended more than 100 miles in 2011.