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Great Lakes Require Additional Protection From Farm Runoff

Dorathy Gass

A new report coming from the International Joint Commission (IJC) has determined that the Great Lakes are not getting the protection they require from farm runoff.

Responsible for resolution and prevention around disputes for the rivers and lakes that run across the U.S. and Canadian border (this encompasses most of the Great Lakes), the IJC released their report on January 18th. The report revealed that voluntary actions to help protect the globe’s largest freshwater lakes from farm runoff (which include manure, pollution from pesticides, soil erosion, plowing, and grazing) has not been sufficient.

Other than Lake Superior, agricultural runoff seems to be a problem for all the Great Lakes, with Lake Erie having the worst of it. As per the IJC, the algae issue is out of control in this lake and is producing something that is referred to as ‘dead zones’; an area of water where oxygen levels are so depleted that no animal or plant life can exist.

The organization stated within the report that concerning algae growth is due to concentrated livestock operations where animal waste has found its way into these bodies of water. The waste has high levels of phosphorus, which can at times result in algae growing development at a much faster rate than what an ecosystem is use to.

To help with this, the organization is proposing that American and Canadian governments place certain legislation in order to protect the harm being done to the Great Lakes.

As well as the manure issue, the report places criticism around the lack of movement around pinpointing dangerous chemicals in the lakes, which also happens to be a basis for drinking water that is supplied to over 40 million individuals.

The report adds that in spite of the motions taken to lessen the introduction of new invasive species, there is a huge need to battle the spread of those currently living within the Great Lakes.

MSN reported that this is the first of its kind when it comes to triennial assessment around the progress American and Canadian governments are working towards when it comes to the water quality of the Great Lakes.