Photo provided by Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (2012)
Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, but it's one of the busiest. Here are a few facts about Lake Erie.
Because of its exposure to the effects of urbanization and agriculture, Lake Erie faces a number of challenges.
High concentrations of phosphorus and high water temperatures are contributing to large scale algae blooms. These masses of green goop are not only unsightly and toxic to some organisms, but the decomposition of dead algae can lead to areas of low dissolved oxygen on the lake bottom called "dead zones" where few fish can survive.
Partnerships such as the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, are seeing the governments of Ontario, Canada and the United States working together to reduce phosphorus levels, restore habitat and monitor emerging problems, such as those linked to climate change.
Other success stories include the clean-up of Lake Erie's Wheatley Harbour. This major commercial fishing port was once contaminated with excess nutrients and toxic PCBs and was listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern. Today, the water quality has improved, the revitalized harbour is home to an abundant and diverse community of fish and wildlife, and it's no longer regarded as a hotspot.
The Ontario government is also investing in several projects to meet the goals of the Grand River Water Management Plan. The goals are to ensure sustainable water supplies, reduce flood damages, improve water quality, reduce the Grand River's impact on Lake Erie, and deal with climate change impacts.
The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority also received funding to research, analyze, model and acquire data related to water quality and flooding issues from climate change and develop an updated water management plan for the Thames River watershed, which has a direct impact on the waters of Lake Erie and nearby Lake St. Clair.