Fertilizer trouble in North America
Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes and includes a part of the border between the USA and Canada. Therefore, it is both countries that have to deal with the problem of eutrophication in the lake, a result of inappropriate use of phosphorous-based fertilizers.
Tourism as well fishing industry suffer due to the fact that a growing proportion of Lake Eire’s surface is covered by a thick layer of algae, which also deteriorate the quality of potable water extracted from the Lake. The algae have appeared because American farmers from Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Canadians from Ontario province use excessive quantities of phosphorous-based fertilizers. Surplus substances are washed out from fields and green areas with rainwater, and flow to the Lake, causing the growth of undesirable organisms in the reservoir.
Somebody must intervene
International Joint Commission, a Canadian-American organization dedicated to water conservation along the border of those countries, has publicized the problem. Local authorities have been informed about the situation. IJC’s proposals include banning the sale of phosphorous-based fertilizers meant for green areas in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario, also denying crop insurance to farmers who use such products. According to IJC, it would be necessary to reduce the consumption of such fertilizers by 39% in order to restore the Lake to the previous condition.
Cooperation is vital
If Canada and the USA had prepared one set of documents establishing the rules and norms concerning fertilizers use in the context of the environmental situation, it would have been much less likely for the Lake to have become affected to such extent. To compare, the so-called Nitrates Directive has been adopted by the European Union in 1991. Council Directive of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (91/676/EEC) aims at protecting water from the negative impact of nitrates polluting water in soil, lakes and rivers, as well as fostering good agricultural practice. The Directive has been implemented on 40% of the EU territory. The objective of the Directive is implementing plans for particular regions and initiating additional initiatives leading to the improvement of the quality of local ecosystems.