The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released their new plan to restoring the largest freshwater source on Earth. The plan includes increasing attempts to clear up toxic algae blooms and clean up 10 polluted rivers and harbors. This program comes after the Obama Administration said on Wednesday more needs to be done to protect the Great Lakes.
The EPA program is called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II, and is the largest conservation program in the history of the U.S. It continues the work from a four-year program launched in 2010. That program shelled out more than $1.6 billion over 2,000+ restoration projects.
The government will spend about $300 million a year on average under this new program, which stretches through 2019.
The EPA hopes to reduce phosphorus fertilizer runoff by more than 1,400 tons by 2019. This plan should also increase double the number of restored wildlife habitats including wetlands.
The Great Lakes have been getting healthier over the past few decades. But, cities are only getting more crowded, and more farms lead to more fertilizer runoff that causes the vast algae blooms in the fresh water lakes.
Will it Work?
The EPA realizes the task in front of them is a tough one. Restoring the Great Lakes isn’t something that can be done in five years. It will take decades to completely restore the area. Plus, years of monitoring to see if the efforts are working.
After the water scare in Toledo, Ohio back in August, we can’t afford inaction. Something must be done to combat the pollution in the water. Drinking water was deemed unsafe for a half-million residents back in August. It underscored what scientists have been warning about for years. The algae bloom problem in the Great Lakes is a serious one, and needs to be combatted.
Above image: Example of algae blooms affecting the Great Lakes in the past.