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Grand Haven students participate in annual fishing event
Grand Haven Tribune (5/15)
In Michigan, Grand Haven Area Public Schools partnered with a nonprofit organization called Pursuing a Dream to give about 300 students with special needs the opportunity to fish and enjoy the outdoors.

NYPA funding aids three St. Lawrence River projects
Watertown Daily Times (5/10)
The St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund has provided funding for three projects that support environmental education in and around the riverís ecosystem.

Lake Michigan Academy students learn from 'Salmon in School' project
MLive (5/9)
About 100 schools throughout Michigan are selected to take part in the Lake Michigan Academy program that aims to help stock local rivers and support fishing as a leisure activity.

Huron Perth students find Lake Huron threats
Blackburn News (5/1)
Nearly 60 high school students from the public and separate boards in Huron and Perth counties spent one day at the Oakwood Inn in Grand Bend, Ontario, where they were learning about the environmental threats and challenges to Lake Huron.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
TEACH Water Pollution in the Great Lakes

5 | Lake Erie: "We have met the enemy and he is us"*

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss In the 1960s, Lake Erie was declared "dead," though, ironically, it was full of life -- just not the right kind. Eutrophication had claimed Lake Erie and excessive algae became the dominant plant species, covering beaches in slimy moss and killing off native aquatic species by soaking up all of the oxygen. The demise of Lake Erie even made it into a Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax.

Lake Erie is the shallowest and warmest of the five Great Lakes, and the basin is also intensively developed with agriculture, urban areas, industries and sewage treatment plants. For decades, pollution filled Lake Erie with far more nutrients than the lake could handle, with phosphorous being the main culprit. Phosphorous is a fertilizer that induces plant growth and algae and was also found in many commercial detergents at the time. Plants began growing, dying and decomposing in Lake Erie, creating anoxia (severe deficiency of oxygen) at the bottom of the lake and leaving the water's surface putrid and mossy. The lack of oxygen killed fish and other aquatic species, and the smelly surface repelled anglers, tourists and those living around Lake Erie. Heavy metals also had contaminated much of the fish population of Lake Erie.

In response to public concern and recommendations by the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed by the United States and Canada in 1972. The Agreement emphasized the reduction of phosphorous entering lakes Erie and Ontario, and in 1977 maximum levels for phosphorous were added to the Agreement. Also, phosphorus in detergents was finally banned. Coupled with the U.S. and Canadian Clean Water acts, the GLQWA did much to reduce the phosphorus levels in Lake Erie.

Today, phosphorus loads in Lake Erie are now below the maximum allowed in the GLWQA, and eutrophication has been controlled. Algae and excessive plant growth has been reduced, and native plants are once again growing in sections of the lake. Lake Erie still has many problems -- such as non-native invasive species, contaminated sediments and closure of beaches due to sewage contamination. But, through international cooperation and public advocacy, the lake is no longer considered "dead," and, hopefully, people have a better understanding and concern for the effects of human activity on water quality in the Great Lakes and beyond.

* The Late, Great Lakes, by William Ashworth, Alfred A. Knoph, Inc. (pg. 133), 1988.

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