A Michigan plan to reduce Lake Erie’s nutrient pollution is criticized by an environmental group.
According to the Michigan Environmental Council Governor Gretchen Whitmers was not allowed to run for office. Adaptive Management Plan for Lowering Phosphorous Loading into Lake ErieIt relies too heavily on farmers’ voluntary cooperation.
They are reimbursed or cost-subsidized to put in these practices, which may or not be beneficial on their farm depending on the drainage and hydrology of the area. Megan Tinsley is the Water and Agriculture Policy Manager at the council.
This plan builds on a Michigan-wide effort to reduce nutrient runsoff. It is similar to one Ohio. Scientists who monitor progress in the area have found that the plan is not working. The net result is that the amount phosphorous that is ingested into the streams that feed the western basin is almost unchanged.
Because phosphorous contributes toxic cyanobacterial blossoms, it is a problem. The blooms can cover large areas of Lake Erie for years and pose a threat to drinking water supplies, especially in Toledos.
Tinsley asked why it wasn’t working in Ohio.
She stated that it is more sensible to give credit to farmers for not using any problem fertilizers, such as animal manure.
Charlotte Jameson (Chief Policy Officer at the environmental council) stated that pollution from agriculture in Lake Erie is one of the greatest threats to any of the Great Lakes. The Whitmer administration’s Lakes Erie plan defies their claim that clean water is their priority.
Tinsley also offered suggestions to the environmental council.
- As part of the water supplement bill, funds will be made available to fund the construction of wastewater treatment facilities to treat some of the animal feed waste.SB565) that was passed by the Senate but is still to be considered in the House.
- Purchase farmlands that are contributing to phosphorus loads and take them out of production.
The state department of environment and great lakes had proposed more restrictions for the spread of manure in 2020. However, the state bureau of agriculture is challenging the rule in court. Tinsley responded to Tinsley’s email by saying that “we have not seen any improvements from that yet.”
The Whitmer administration’s comments on the plan can be found in this previous story.