teach.GLIN.net
GLIN Daily News About GLIN
AboutEnvironmentHistory/CultureGeographyPollutionCareers/BusinessTeachers' Corner
water photo
What's New?

Anglers enlisted in water fight
Great Lakes Echo (6/29)
A recent study by researchers at Cornell University, in N.Y., revealed that anglers in the Great Lakes region are aware of and concerned about the threat of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Stone Lab hosts series of experts to discuss lake
Port Clinton News Herald (6/28)
In Ohio, people looking to learn more about the issues facing Lake Erie will have several opportunities this summer to hear firsthand from the experts in the field who deal with those issues every day.

Goal of UWM habitat study is to help restore fisheries in river
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (6/25)
Led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences, a habitat study's goal is to identify habitat that supports estuary fish and recommend strategies to protect, encourage and connect these habitats in harbor revitalization and habitat restoration plans.

Funding milestone reached for Aquatic Research Lab expansion
The Sault Ste. Marie Evening News (6/13)
Both houses of Michiganís legislature have approved nearly $9 million in funding for an expansion of Lake Superior State Universityís successful Aquatic Research Lab (ARL).

Students dive, document Sheboygan shipwreck
Sheboygan Press (6/13)
A team of budding nautical archaeologists from East Carolina University dove below the waves of Lake Michigan to discover what treasures lay hidden on the sandy bottom.

Island living and working at Thousand Islands Biological Station in Clayton
The Syracuse Post-Standard (6/8)
Many apply, but few are chosen for the limited number of scientific research positions each year at the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS). The SUNY ESF research facility is located on Governor's Island in the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY.

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.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6   Next page