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DeWine, Other Great Lakes Leaders Recommit to Phosphorus Reduction Goals

Source: The Hannah Report

The objective for Ohio, Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario will continue to be Lake Erie Western Basin phosphorous reductions of 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025, Gov. Mike DeWine told Hannah News on Monday.

DeWine, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Rod Phillips (representing Ontario Premier Doug Ford), recommitted to the terms of the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement during the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers 2019 Leadership Summit over the weekend.

Asked whether or not the governments are on track to meet the 2020 goal, DeWine said, “We’ll see.”

“We have pretty good data on where we are, and what is actually flowing into the lake and from where,” DeWine said, adding that he didn’t know the current percentage reduction numbers of the top of his head. A message seeking comment from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) was not returned by late Monday.

DeWine said he was joined at the summit by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz and Lake Erie Commission Director Joy Mulinex.

“One of the things we’re clearly committed to doing is focusing on a lot more on the creation of more wetlands, because that’s a great filter. The other thing that we’re in the process of doing is we have wetlands that have been created, but they’re self-contained. When they’re self-contained, we’re not using them to the maximum as a filter. What we really want these wetlands to do is to be a filter before it goes into Lake Erie. It’s not something that is going to solve all the problems, but it’s certainly part of the solution and it’s something that we have budgeted for. As long as the money stays in this budget, we’re going to have money to do that.”

DeWine said the Great Lakes leaders also discussed a number of other issues including addressing drinking water contaminants, boosting the regional cruising industry, calling on Congress to fully fund the construction of a new Soo Lock, increasing maritime trade with Europe and harnessing private-sector capital for regional environmental improvements.

“We share the commitment of protecting and promoting the Great Lakes, this incredible natural resource,” said DeWine, who is vice chair of the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. “In Ohio, we border Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes and one especially susceptible to threats like invasive species and harmful algal blooms. I have made protecting Lake Erie a priority of my administration and have introduced a program called H2Ohio to invest in long-term water quality solutions.”

“The Midwest region is defined by our Great Lakes. Michigan’s economy, our jobs, drinking water and public health all depend on them. These bipartisan efforts are an important step towards reducing phosphorus run off into the Western Lake Erie Basin, but there is more work to be done,” Whitmer said. “Recent news reports are indicating that this summer’s algal blooms in Lake Erie are projected to be higher than in previous years. These reports emphasize the need for this important work. We must push for increased efforts to gauge our progress in meeting the reductions and continue to address harmful algal blooms so that we’re able to protect our Great Lakes for generations to come.”

“Ontario is proud to stand with Ohio and Michigan in reaffirming our commitment to reduce phosphorus loadings into the Western Basin of Lake Erie,” Phillips said. “This will help reduce algal blooms, which can be harmful to human health and the environment. Collaborating with our partners across the border to manage phosphorus in order to reduce harmful algal blooms is the most effective way we can address this serious environmental challenge and protect communities on all sides of this Great Lake.”

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