By Joel Brammeier, President & CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes that make up the largest body of fresh water on Earth – Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – affect nearly all aspects of the northern United States ecosystem, from drinking water for people, to resources for wildlife to weather and more. However, these massive and awe inspiring Great Lakes are at great risk if we do not protect them, as they are increasingly threatened by excessive phosphorus that feeds harmful algal blooms – some of them toxic to people and pets.
Fueled by runoff pollution, Lake Erie in particular is experiencing the worst algal blooms in a generation, threatening public health and the future of communities around the lake. This leads to an unacceptable drinking water hazard for nearly 12 million people. Scientists report that reducing the amount of runoff pollution to Lake Erie will significantly reduce algal blooms and improve the lake’s health. Unfortunately, the rules and public programs we currently have in place are not sufficient to reduce runoff and restore the lake to ensure safe, clean drinking water.
Alliance for the Great Lakes protects the Great Lakes by involving tens of thousands of people each year in advocacy, volunteerism, education and research to ensure the lakes are healthy and safe for today and tomorrow. We’ve helped spearhead the Great Lakes protection movement to ensure that the health of the lakes is a priority when policymakers write new laws and enforce current ones. While our organization is dedicating significant resources to ensure the health of the lakes, we cannot protect them alone.
We have partnered with ScottsMiracle-Gro to reduce runoff pollution entering Lake Erie – specifically, the Western Basin where algal blooms develop and spread eastward. To achieve this, ScottsMiracle-Gro is supporting our work with scientists, local community leaders, volunteers, elected and agency officials to ensure regulations and protections are in place to reduce pollution and restore Lake Erie. While both organizations have taken actions independently to protect shared water resources and the communities that depend on them, we recognize the importance of joining forces with others to achieve far-reaching, long-term success.
We first partnered with ScottsMiracle-Gro in 2011, when we co-hosted forums around the Lakes, to educate homeowners on sustainable lawn care behaviors and the responsible use of fertilizers in preserving water quality. At these forums, urban planning, storm water management and water quality stakeholders convened to discuss community-based solutions to preserve Lake Erie’s water quality. And we were pleased when the company showed industry leadership and eliminated phosphorus from its lawn fertilizers in 2013.
We are excited to advance our partnership further by joining a network of leading organizations in the Water Positive National Partner Network that share the same commitment to water quality and conservation. With support from ScottsMiracle-Gro, we will continue to impress upon the community that local efforts can make a long-lasting, positive impact and that everyone can play a role in protecting and improving the quality of the water we all rely on.
To add your voice in support of protecting a healthy Great Lakes, please visit our action center.