Builds on previous Government action to protect water quality and ecosystems in the Great Lakes
OTTAWA, July 9, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, announced that Canada has launched public consultations on the recommended phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie.
Developing phosphorus reduction targets is a key commitment of the 2012 Canada‑United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The targets being proposed for Lake Erie are the result of the science delivered by the Harper Government's $16 million Great Lakes Nutrient Initiative, and the work of a binational subcommittee made up of federal agencies and many other partners. The Government of Canada is now seeking feedback from the public to inform the final targets and the development of phosphorus reduction plans. Members of the public have the opportunity to comment on these targets until August 31, 2015.
Phosphorus is linked to algal bloom occurrences in Lake Erie which have increased over the past decade. The blooms can increase costs associated with water quality and treatment, adversely impact commercial and recreational fishing activities and other recreational pursuits, and degrade fish and wildlife habitat and populations. This latest action on phosphorus builds on previous investments and initiatives by the Government of Canada to protect the Great Lakes to ensure that Canadians can continue to enjoy them.
- Lake Erie is experiencing more algal growth than the other Great Lakes which is why Canada and the United States have chosen to focus first on setting phosphorus reduction targets there. The work on Lake Erie will inform actions in the other Great Lakes.
- Reduced phosphorus levels will benefit the Great Lakes ecosystem, which is home to more than 100 species of fish and thousands species of plants and animals.
- Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested more than $219 million to support water-quality initiatives for the Great Lakes.
- Since 2006, more than $20 million has been invested into 367 projects to protect and restore Great Lakes water quality in Great Lakes Areas of Concern through the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund.
- Three Canadian Areas of Concern—Severn Sound, Collingwood Harbour on Georgian Bay, and Wheatley Harbour on Lake Erie—have been fully remediated and delisted. Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior is set to become the fourth delisted area later this year.
- The Government of Canada has committed $3.5 million every year to combat the threat of Asian carp in the Great Lakes.
- Since 2006, the Government of Canada has committed about $643 million for wastewater infrastructure in communities located in and around the Great Lakes basin to help improve water quality.
- Within the Great Lakes region, Canada has made significant progress in reducing chemicals of concern over the past 20 years. Results include a reduction of over 95 percent of high-level polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in storage in Ontario, a reduction of 90 percent of mercury releases to the Great Lakes basin, a reduction of over 98 percent in sources, uses and releases of alkyllead in Ontario, and a 90 percent reduction in total releases of dioxins and furans to the Great Lakes basin.
"The Great Lakes are a vast shared resource containing a significant portion of the world's fresh water. They provide the foundation for billions of dollars in economic activity, and they are a direct source of drinking water for millions of Canadians. The phosphorus reduction targets being proposed for Lake Erie are an important step toward further protecting the Great Lakes and build on our Government's significant efforts to improve water quality and safeguard the health of Canadians."
– The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council
We welcome your feedback until August 31, 2015.
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SOURCE Environment Canada
For further information: Ted Laking, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of the Environment, 819-997-1441; Media Relations, Environment Canada, 819-934-8008