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What caused the eutrophication of Lake Erie?
from Allen in Wildwood, NJ, Age 15

The eutrophication of a body of water occurs when too many nutrients (in the case of Lake Erie, phosphorous is to blame) become dissolved in the water.

Although nutrients can be helpful to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes in general, there is a delicate balance that must be upheld. Too much of any one substance (or group of substances) can cause toxic contamination and -- as with Lake Erie -- rapid aging and filling in of the lake from the overgrowth of algae. This causes the depletion (lack of) oxygen, which is needed by the lifeforms in the lake to survive.

Eutrophication can be caused by runoff water carrying fertilizers and other organic wastes into a lake or by direct point source pollution, such as the dumping of seawge.

Related references:
TEACH: Water pollution in the Great Lakes
TEACH: Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs)
GLIN: Lake Erie

Thank you for your question!


Answered on August 3, 2001

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