Skip to main content

Leaders pledge water quality improvements for Lake Erie

June 14, 2019 

Leaders pledge water quality improvements for Lake Erie


MILWAUKEE, Wis.-- Today, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and Rod Phillips, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, representing Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, pledged their commitment to the goals of the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement and their intention to reduce phosphorus inputs to the Western Lake Erie Basin by 40 percent by 2025, with an interim goal of a 20 percent reduction by 2020.

In 2015, parties from Michigan, Ohio and Ontario first committed to these reduction targets in Quebec City at the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. The 40 percent phosphorus reduction commitment is also the loading target agreed to through the Nutrients Annex of the US-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. 

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have been a growing problem in the Western Lake Erie Basin for well over a decade. HABs threaten drinking water, recreation, and wildlife habitat. Phosphorus is one of drivers of the algae blooms in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. The scientific community recommended a 40 percent reduction of phosphorus in order to prevent severe HABs from occurring. Under the 2015 agreement, the two states and province developed individual plans outlining their proposed specific actions toward achieving the phosphorus reduction goal. The parties are all working to implement their plans to reduce phosphorus loadings.

“The Midwest region is defined by our Great Lakes. Michigan’s economy, our jobs, drinking water, and public health all depend on them. These bi-partisan efforts are an important step towards reducing phosphorus run off into the Western Lake Erie Basin, but there is more work to be done. Recent news reports are indicating that this summer’s algal blooms in Lake Erie are projected to be higher than in previous years. These reports emphasize the need for this important work. We must push for increased efforts to gauge our progress in meeting the reductions and continue to address Harmful Algal Blooms so that we’re able to protect our Great Lakes for generations to come,” said Governor Whitmer.  

“We are united in our commitment to protect Lake Erie, and it will take continued collaboration and hard work to address the problems facing our Great Lake,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “In Ohio, I have made protecting Lake Erie a priority of my administration and have introduced a program called H2Ohio to invest in long-term water quality solutions. I look forward to ongoing work with Michigan, Ontario, and our other Great Lakes partners toward our shared goals.”

“Ontario is proud to stand with Ohio and Michigan in reaffirming our commitment to reduce phosphorus loadings into the western basin of Lake Erie,” said Minister Phillips. “This will help reduce algal blooms, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Collaborating with our partners across the border to manage phosphorus in order to reduce harmful algal blooms is the most effective way we can address this serious environmental challenge and protect communities on all sides of this Great Lake.” The Great Lakes leaders are gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this weekend for the biannual meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. The agenda includes discussion of cross-border trade, aquatic invasive species management, maritime system, and other shared issues related to the protection and management of the Great Lakes.