Erie, Ontario Fare Worst in Study of Great Lakes
Lake Superior relatively clean in comparison
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2012 6:26 PM CST
A surfer walks into the cold waves on Lake Ontario at a Toronto beach in this file photo.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

(Newser) – A three-year environmental study has produced a color-coded map of the Great Lakes, with Ontario and Erie clearly under the most stress from a hodgepodge of factors, reports the Detroit Free Press. (See the map here.) One big culprit with those two lakes, however, is fertilizer runoff from farms, says a University of Michigan researcher, citing "some of the heaviest loads of phosphorous in North America."

Lake Superior fares the best in the study, with huge swaths of its water a low-stress blue. Then come lakes Huron and Michigan, with most of the latter falling in the second-highest color range of stress. Factors such as invasive zebra mussels, dwindling ice cover, mining, and even light pollution are taking a toll. Researchers say a comprehensive strategy is required for the entire ecosystem, instead of individual ones that focus on just one high-profile issue at a time (like zebra mussels).

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
schmidtkoff
Dec 19, 2012 7:57 AM CST
i grew up on lake ontario. i love the lake. loved the long walks on the ice so far from shore, loved sitting on the shore with the sunday paper, some coffee and donuts watching the sun rise. but this is not a new problem. i can't count how many times the beaches of lake ontario were closed due to high coliform counts. they've known about this for years.
Grokthat
Dec 19, 2012 5:47 AM CST
....wondering if meager rainfall in the Great Lakes area and resulting low lake levels impact the study. These waters were on the rebound from its 1960's condition.
iq145
Dec 18, 2012 10:05 PM CST
Do you realize what "fertilizer runoff" is? That stinks! Those are two main suppliers of U.S. drinking water!