As algal blooms flourish on the edges of the Great Lakes, lake management bodies look to cut down the flow of nutrients into the water that feeds the algae. But, as a recent report by the International Joint Commission explains, not all parts of the lakes suffer from too many nutrients — in fact, the deeper offshore waters aren’t getting enough.
In late June, the Commission’s Science Advisory Board released a report on the decline in nutrients in the offshore waters of the lakes and the harmful impact this decline is having on fish populations.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient that fuels life in the Great Lakes ecosystems. The amount of phosphorus determines how many living things can survive in the lake, from tiny plankton up to top predator fish. And in every lake except Erie, the phosphorus levels in the offshore region — waters more than twenty meters deep — are below the targets established under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada.