89.1 WEMU

University Of Michigan Calling For Measures To Keep Nutrient Pollution Out Of Great Lakes

Sep 26, 2014

There are a myriad of concerns over the health of the Great Lakes. From toxic algae blooms to urban chemical run-off, the quality of the world's largest fresh-water system is under constant scrutiny. A University of Michigan professor confirms the concern is warranted, and is urging action throughout the basin. 

Credit Wikimedia

The Great Lakes provide drinking water to some 40 Million people, including those in eastern Washtenaw County. A little south of here this summer an Algal bloom forced water shutoffs in Toledo and a portion of Monroe County. That bloom was fed by phosphorous and nitrates. Things that come from both Urban and Rural sources.

John Lehman is a Professor of Biology at the University of Michigan.  He notes the city of Ann Arbor has been a leader in reducing pollution by placing legal restrictions on landscaping phosphorous and making upgrades to the waste water treatment plant. But, that isn't happening in nearly enough places in the great Lakes region. 

As for the more rural and agricultural communities? "I don't think farmers are interested in adding nutrients that are just going to do their crops no good and wind up running off into the streams.  So if there's means of managing that in terms of the application rate and the, as I say, the buffer strips of vegetation that probably helps them a lot," Lehman says.

Mayors from across the region met this week to discuss these issues and are formally calling on tougher agricultural regulations.  

Lehman says he'll collect samples from the Great Lakes next summer as the causal study of algal blooms continue. 

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.