International Joint Commission Hosts Expert Workshop to Tackle Challenge of Nutrient Pollution and Harmful Algae in Lake Erie


[Windsor, Ontario]- For two days next week (Feb. 25-26), top experts from both Canada and the U.S. will gather in Windsor, Ontario to review scientific papers, discuss findings and develop recommendations regarding the biggest challenge facing Lake Erie – harmful algae.  The experts-only workshop is being hosted by the Great Lakes Regional Office of the International Joint Commission as part of its Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP).  Early in 2012, the Commission decided that addressing the algae problem in Lake Erie was a top priority and began engaging scientists to write papers on key aspects of the issue.

"Governments on both sides of the border have devoted considerable resources to tackling the algae crisis in Lake Erie," said Raj Bejankiwar, the lead Commission scientist, who organized the workshop.  "Our goal is to make sure the latest scientific findings and recommendations are available to governments as they implement programs and policies to solve the problem."

Workshop participants will focus on draft review papers that address four key scientific topics:

  • internal and external sources of phosphorus loading;
  • climate change implications on loadings and harmful algal blooms;
  • response of indicators to nutrient loadings; and,
  • best management practices for reducing nutrient loadings from agricultural and urban sources.

After reviewing the results and conclusions of each paper, participants at the workshop will analyze emerging questions raised by the authors and seek consensus on findings and recommendations. 

Following the workshop and additional review and research, the Commission expects to release a draft report and recommendations for public comment in May*.  Public meetings to review the report and receive comment will be scheduled all around Lake Erie this summer.  A final report will be submitted to governments prior to the first Great Lakes Public Forum to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 9-10.  Under the new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the U.S. and Canadian governments and the Commission must convene the Forum every three years to give the public information about critical issues facing the lakes and receive comments.In addition to scientists from state, provincial and federal governments, experts at the workshop are from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University as well as the University of Windsor, among other institutions. 



John Nevin, GLRO Public Affairs                   519-903-6001

Raj Bejankiwar, GLRO Physical Scientist        519-257-6711