Question & Answer Period.

PositionA State-Provincial Approach to Harmful Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes Basin: Possibilities and Pitfalls

Moderator: Stephen J. Petras, Jr.

MR. PETRAS: Well now, it is time for the question and answer portion of our program. We're going to go with that until approximately fifteen minutes before noon, at which time we're going to invite Kathryn and Irena to respond to everything that they've heard. We do have some questions that have been provided to us from our attendees, as well as others, that we think are important.

And I want to start off, we've identified before, you know, in the '60s and '70s, that point sources like wastewater treatment plants were a big problem, and there were successful solutions apparently for those. I'd like to ask Lucinda Johnson a question, and that is, given the diverse drivers and sources of nutrients driving harmful algal blooms, is there a sufficient understanding of the relative influence of each of the sources to determine whether a 40% reduction in spring loads would actually lead to fewer harmful algal blooms? I mean, we've talked now about nonpoint source, in particular, agriculture. Howard's been very direct on that as to what's happening in the western basin of Lake Erie. Lucinda, can you respond?

DR. JOHNSON: Thanks for that question, Stephen. The answer is that we are pretty confident about some aspects of that equation for certain geographies of the Great Lakes, the western basin of Lake Erie, being one. I would say that there is less certainty with respect to other parts of Lake Erie, and certainly across other parts of the Great Lakes. So, as Howard has mentioned, the numbers with respect to loadings into the western arm are fairly well-established, and I suspect that the 40% reduction is a valid number. But, that is not well-established for other parts of the Great Lakes.

MR. PETRAS: Would anybody else like to respond? Tricia, yes. And you're on mute, so.

MS. MITCHELL: Hi. Sorry, okay. I guess what I would just like to clarify is, so the 40% reduction targets really only--I know people have talked about them in terms of applying to the Great Lakes--but they really only were set for Lake Erie, and actually for specific parts of Lake Erie. And in that case, we have coordinated science between Canada and the U.S., our state and provincial agencies, we've developed dose response curves.

And one of the things I wanted to mention was, a lot of the items that--actually, I think almost all of the items--that are presented in the paper as unknowns, like atmospheric deposition, dreissenid mussels, all of those are incorporated in our models in Lake Erie. And the science is continuously being updated, so the models are being updated based on the new science. So we are, I mean, based on the best available science, we can say that if we achieve those targets, we will have a bloom similar to the 2012--which was a modest bloom--nine out of ten years. And we have an adaptive management framework in place that says, as we get new science that tells us something different, we're going to update and change our management accordingly. So, I guess I wanted to point that out.

And then, as Lucinda said, the other basins that are experiencing harmful algal blooms around the Great Lakes, its, I guess, a little bit of a different situation for each one. So, again, in Hamilton Harbor on the Canadian side, under the AOC [Areas of Concern] program, we've done a ton of science to say, "What do we need to do to get to those blooms?" And then we have Remedial Action Plans, and a process in place to get to the objective. So, I'll stop there. Thanks.

MR. PETRAS: Okay, great. Would any of the other panelists like to respond to that question? Okay, let me see.

MR. BRENNAN: Can you repeat the question, sorry, again?

MR. PETRAS: Yes, the question was--and I'm going to go back so I get it correct--given the diverse drivers and sources of nutrients driving harmful algal blooms, is there a sufficient understanding of the relative influence of each of the sources to determine whether a 40% reduction in spring loads would actually lead to fewer harmful algal blooms? Todd, do you want to, do you have anything to say on that?

MR. BRENNAN: I think Tricia handled it well. I think the answer is, yes, it depends on the geography. 40% was obviously defined for western Lake Erie. However, across the Great Lakes Basin, if ... and that's one area I would love to hear more from Irena and Kathryn about--whether they were thinking of just applying that across the Great Lakes Basin as a blanket reduction target, just for everybody to have esprit de corps, a goal to shoot for. Or, they would be relevant because there's certain areas where you do have geographically devised goals.

Green Bay is another one, another EPA-designated algae outbreak hotspot. Our goal is actually a 60% reduction. So, it's more than western Lake Erie in terms of proportion, less in overall, actual load, but a 40%--regardless, I'll take 40%, 60%, I'll take anything at this point.


Because it's a flat line, if nothing, it's actually going down.

MR. PETRAS: Very good. Jim Blanchard, do you have a question? Governor Blanchard, I saw your hand, so.

HON. JAMES BLANCHARD: First of all, I've really enjoyed all of this. And I liked Howard...

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