Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs
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Understanding Lake Erie and Solutions to Its History of Nutrient Enrichment and HABs. Dr . Jeffrey M. Reutter Director, Ohio Sea Grant College Program. Lake Erie Stats. Drinking water for 11 million people Over 20 power plants Power production is greatest water use

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Understanding Lake Erie and Solutions to Its History of Nutrient Enrichment and HABs

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Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs

Understanding Lake Erie and Solutions to Its History ofNutrient Enrichment and HABs

Dr. Jeffrey M. Reutter

Director, Ohio Sea Grant College Program


Lake erie stats

Lake Erie Stats

Drinking water for 11 million people

Over 20 power plants

Power production is greatest water use

300 marinas in Ohio alone

Walleye Capital of the World

40% of all Great Lakes charter boats

Ohio’s charter boat industry is one of the largest in North America

$1.5 billion sport fishery

One of top 10 sport fishing locations in the world

Most valuable freshwater commercial fishery in the world

Coastal county tourism value is $11.6 billion & 117,000 jobs


One of the most important lakes in the world

One of the Most Important Lakes in the World

Dead lake image of 60s and 70s.

Poster child for pollution problems in this country.

But, most heavily utilized of any of the Great Lakes.

Shared by 4 states and 2 countries.

Best example of ecosystem recovery in world.


Great lakes land use

Great Lakes Land Use

Image: Ohio Sea Grant


Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant


Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant


Major land uses in the great lakes

Major Land Uses in The Great Lakes


Because of land use lake erie gets

Because of Land Use, Lake Erie Gets:

More sediment

More nutrients (fertilizers and sewage)

More pesticides

(The above 3 items are exacerbated by storms, which will be more frequent and severe due to climate change.)

And Lake Erie is still biologically the most productive of the Great Lakes—And always will be!!


50 2 rule

50:2 Rule

(Not exact, but instructive)

Lake Superior: 50% of the water and 2% of the fish

Lake Erie: 2% of the water and 50% of the fish


80 10 10 rule

80:10:10 Rule

80% of water from upper lakes

10% from Lake Erie tributaries

10% direct precipitation


Nutrients problem or benefit

Nutrients: Problem or Benefit?

On our lawns, they make our grass grow

In water, they make algae and plants grow

Lake Erie is most productive Great Lake because: shallowest, warmest, and most nutrients.

But it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Too much algae, wrong kinds of algae


Why does lake erie get most nutrients

Why does Lake Erie get most nutrients?

The most agriculture in its basin

Few forests

Wetlands gone

Large human population—water treatment, septic tanks, sewage treatment (or lack thereof)


Historical trends the lake erie ecosystem

Historical Trends:The Lake Erie Ecosystem

1969—Cuyahoga River burns

Getting worse annually to 1970

Stable 1970-75

Improving 1975-1995

1995+ Getting worse

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant


What brought about the rebirth

What brought about the rebirth?

Phosphorus reductions from point sources (29,000 metric tons to 11,000);and agriculture helped!


Why are we targeting phosphorus

Why are we targeting phosphorus?

Normally limiting nutrient in freshwater systems

P reduction is best strategy ecologically and economically

Reducing both P and N would help


Phosphorus sources

Phosphorus Sources

  • 1960s and 70s—primarily point sources (2/3)

  • Today loading is coming primarily from agriculture (2/3) but other sources include:

    • Sewage treatment plants and CSOs

    • Lawn fertilizer runoff

    • Water treatment plants

    • Septic tanks


Impacts of increased phosphorus concentrations

Impacts of Increased Phosphorus Concentrations

  • HABs—If P concentrations are high (regardless of the source, Ag, sewage, etc.) and water is warm, we will have a HAB (nitrogen concentration will likely determine which of the 6-7 species bloom)

  • Nuisance Algae Blooms

    • Cladophora—Whole lake problem. An attached form.

  • Dead Zone in Central Basin


Blue green algae bloom circa 1971 lake erie

Blue-green Algae Bloom circa 1971, Lake Erie

Photo: Forsythe and Reutter


Microcystis stone lab 8 10 10

Microcystis, Stone Lab, 8/10/10

Photos: Jeff Reutter


Microcystis in lake erie

Microcystis in Lake Erie

  • The Microcystis-Anabaenabloom of 2009 was the largest in recent years in our sampling region

  • …until 2011 Source: Tom Bridgeman, UT

2011


Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs

August 11 2011

1330 cfs

Photo: NOAA Satellite Image


Understanding lake erie and solutions to its history of nutrient enrichment and habs

October 9, 2011

Photo: NOAA Satellite Image


Microcystis near marblehead

Microcystis near Marblehead

October 9, 2011

Photo: Richard Kraus, United States Geological Survey


Stone lab docks sept 2011

Stone Lab Docks Sept 2011


Microcystin concentrations

Microcystin Concentrations

1 ppb WHO drinking water limit

20 ppb WHO swimming limit

60 ppb highest level for Lake Erie till this year

84 ppb highest level for Grand Lake St. Marys till last year

2000+ Grand Lake St. Marys 2010

1200 Lake Erie Maumee Bay area 2011


Are habs only a lake erie and ohio problem

Are HABs only a Lake Erie and Ohio Problem?

Global problem

Serious problem in US and Canada

Common species in Lake Erie is Microcystis sp.

Dominant form in Grand Lake St. Marysin 2010 was Aphanizomenon sp., the same species that bloomed in Lake Erie in the 60s and 70s


Nutrient loading

Nutrient Loading

Majority of loading occurs during storm events

80-90% of loading occurs 10-20% of time

2012 = dry spring and low load—a very good thing!!


Climate change is making these problems worse

Climate change is making these problems worse!

  • Warm water favors HABs

  • Warm water increases oxygen depletion rates

  • More severe storms will resuspend more sediment and increase erosion and nutrient loading

    • Critically important point—with no changes in Ag practices, warmer weather and increased frequency of severe storms could increase negative impact of existing practices.

  • Lake levels—uncertain/probably down


Increased frequency of rainstorms

Increased Frequency of Rainstorms

Changes in frequencies of storms in the Midwest, by category of storm size for five decades, 1961-1970 through 2001-2010. Labeled changes are for the last decade. Comparisons are to frequencies in 1961-1990. Source: Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Natural Resources Defense Council.


Maumee discharge in 2011 12 the perfect natural experiment

Maumee Discharge in 2011 & 12: the Perfect Natural Experiment


Noaa hab forecast 2012

NOAA HAB Forecast--2012

  • Loading from March through June is critical point

    • Drought leads to low rainfall and runoff

    • Heidelberg data shows loads lowest in 40 years

    • UT data show Maumee Bay concentrations less than 1/10 of 2011

    • Therefore, 2012 bloom will be less than 10% of 2011 bloom in Western Basin and similar to 2007.


Microcystis in lake erie1

Microcystis in Lake Erie

  • The Microcystis-Anabaenabloom of 2009 was the largest in recent years in our sampling region

  • …until 2011 Source: Tom Bridgeman, UT

2011


Target loads to solve problem

Target Loads to Solve Problem

Leading subcommittee of the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force to identify both spring and annual target loads of both total P and DRP to prevent or greatly reduce HABs


For more information dr jeff reutter director

For more information:Dr. Jeff Reutter, Director

Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab

Ohio State Univ.

1314 Kinnear Rd.

Col, OH 43212

614-292-8949

[email protected]

ohioseagrant.osu.edu

Stone Laboratory

Ohio State Univ.

Box 119

Put-in-Bay, OH 43456

614-247-6500


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