GLC indicated in a release that phosphorus loadings, primarily from nonpoint sources, are the cause of the widely reported harmful algal blooms which have been prevalent in western Lake Erie in recent years. According to Dr. Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory, the biomass produced in Lake Erie in 2011 exceeded the previous highest biomass years combined. Erie is the southernmost, shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes. Lake Erie is very susceptible to HABs due to its size and the large amount of agricultural lands in the surrounding area.
GLC hosted a special joint session with the International Joint Commission (IJC) to discuss actions to accelerate and target nutrient reduction efforts and achieve near-term results that will reduce the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms and related water quality impacts in the Great Lakes. Dave Dempsey, special advisor to the IJC, presented the IJC's Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) to reduce phosphorus loads and algal blooms. LEEP plans to take the best science available to produce a series of review papers on various topics, including social/economic factors. A Lake Erie workshop will be held in February 2013 to review the draft reports. Recommendations to the governments are expected in fall 2013.
The GLC released a second task force report focused on improving emergency preparedness and response in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. GLC Executive Director Tim Eder said, "The task force recommendations and the accompanying resolution adopted by the GLC will help ensure that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are well protected in the event of an oil or other hazardous material spill." Pipelines, vessels, facilities and cold weather response were the primary categories that were examined. The report was requested by the Great Lakes states and provinces in response to two notable spills in the last decade: the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest in U.S. history, and, more recently, the Talmadge Creek (Kalamazoo River) spill near Marshall, Mich., one of the largest inland emergency response efforts in U.S. history.
A live webcast of the conference is available on HOW website courtesy of coverage by Detroit Public Television and Cleveland Ideastream. The conference, which runs September 11-13, comes as the presidential election heats up. Representatives of the Obama and Romney election campaigns will address the gathering Thursday, September 13, at 10:30 AM. Carol Browner, former White House Energy and Climate Change Director for President Obama and former EPA Administrator under President Clinton, will be representing the Obama campaign. The Romney campaign is confirming its representative.
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