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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

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

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
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

slide23

August 11 2011

1330 cfs

Photo: NOAA Satellite Image

slide24

October 9, 2011

Photo: NOAA Satellite Image

microcystis near marblehead
Microcystis near Marblehead

October 9, 2011

Photo: Richard Kraus, United States Geological Survey

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.

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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