Staff Blogger: Sarah Brunot, Environmental Intern
Individual support is essential to make sure Lake Erie is safe. While the increasing growth of toxic blue-green algae stems from many big agricultural and livestock farms, Lake Erie can be protected with the help of individuals and environmental groups. Here is a list of things you can do to to support Lake Erie:
Support Lake Erie nonprofits
There are many nonprofits that are interested in protecting Lake Erie (including Lake Erie Foundation, Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Lake Erie Waterkeepers). Supporting a nonprofit can entail donating money, or even just attending meetings.
The Lake Erie Waterkeepers meet on the second Thursday of every month. The meetings include various updates about Lake Erie. Anyone is welcome to join these monthly meetings, and there is always an opportunity to ask any extra questions about Lake Erie.
Avoid supporting big farm corporations that produce meat and dairy
Phosphorus from farming runoff is the main cause of eutrophication (nutrient overloading) in Lake Erie, which creates the ideal environment for blue-green algal blooms. In recent years, commercial fertilizer practices have improved and overall runoff from these farms has decreased.
However, as the toxic algal blooms continue to threaten Lake Erie, it is clear that the problem is likely stemming from manure, and the runoff from surrounding livestock farms. These large livestock farms (which can house thousands of animals) are illegal in many other countries, so the companies located to the United States, pollute the waters, and then export goods abroad.
According to Sandy Bihn, Executive Director of the Lake Erie Waterkeepers, many of these large corporations put many smaller farms out of business. The smaller farms are not so concentrated, and do not pollute Lake Erie in such high amounts.
Remember to vote and express interest in Lake Erie health to political leaders
By emailing, calling, or writing a letter to various political leaders, you can let them know about the issues that are important to you. Listed below are a few suggestions of leaders to reach out to in an effort to pass legislation to discourage Lake Erie pollution.
U.S. Senators from Ohio, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman (click here for contact information)
Ohio members of the U.S. House of Representatives (click here for contact information of U.S. House members)
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (click here for contact information)
United States Department of Agriculture/ USDA (click here for contact information)
Recognize and appreciate the greatness of Lake Erie
Lake Erie is often taken for granted. By taking some time to appreciate how much Lake Erie has provided (whether that is fresh water, a wonderful view, or even just a fun afternoon) can go a long way. Appreciation for the lake will spread to others, and soon the whole community will understand that Lake Erie is a resource worth protecting.