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EPA Announces Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant to Ohio Lake Erie Commission to Study Causes of Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia

Release Date: 11/13/2013
Contact Information: Peter Cassell, 312-886-6234, cassell.peter@epa.gov

CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $500,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission to study the causes of harmful algal blooms and low oxygen levels in Lake Erie.

“This EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant will fund crucial scientific work to answer questions about the role of nutrients, such as phosphorus, in harmful algal blooms that occur in the Western Lake Erie Basin,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman. “The answers to these questions will help target efforts to protect the western basin and to restore the entire Lake Erie ecosystem.”

“Dealing with harmful algal blooms must be a top priority,” said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur. “Along with invasive species, they are the most serious threats to the Lake Erie ecosystem.”

Specifically, this GLRI project will:

    Track the movement of various forms of phosphorus (e.g., soluble, particulate) and nitrogen in the Western Lake Erie Basin;
    Assess nutrient sources (by type and location) that contribute to formation of harmful algal blooms in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and
    Examine the extent to which phosphorus loading in the Western Lake Erie Basin contributes to low oxygen levels (hypoxia) in the Central Lake Erie Basin.

Field studies, lab experiments and modeling will be used to quantify nutrient loads, to develop a limit for nutrient loadings at the sub-watershed level, and to evaluate the impact of hydrology (including seasonal flows and extreme weather events) on the formation of harmful algal blooms.

“This project is critically important for understanding the dynamics of nutrients and their impact on algal blooms and hypoxia in Lake Erie,” said Gail Hesse, Director of Ohio’s Lake Erie Commission. “The results of this project will enable better management decisions in our efforts to address the issues that face Lake Erie.”

Since 2010, EPA has awarded GLRI grants each year to states, municipalities, tribes, universities and nonprofit organizations. In July 2013, EPA announced the availability of up to $9.5 million for competitive grants to fund a new round of projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes. EPA received a total of 63 applications requesting over $25.6 million. The Agency will announce additional GLRI grants in the coming weeks.

For more information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit www.glri.us.