This week marks the one year anniversary of an algae bloom that left 90 per cent of Pelee Island residents, who rely on well water, without safe drinking water for weeks.
Pelee Island Mayor Rick Masse says the water is not thick and green like it has been in the past.
“It hasn’t been a problem this year,” says Masse. “We’ve been blessed.”
Satellite photo from a NASA website show algae blooms on Lake Erie on Oct. 5, 2011.
Water samples on the island came up somewhat clear on Tuesday – visible signs the toxic blue green algae are minimal.
A few months ago, the algae did make its ugly appearance on shore, but overall, mayor rick masse says the impact has been very low this year.
“Because of wind conditions and the way lake has been acting this year, it’s in the lake, but it seems to be moving around our community and not hitting our shores – where last year,” says Masse.
Last summer, the toxic algae devastated the island. There was a complete water ban, beaches were closed and tourism dried up.
“This issue is bigger than Pelee,” says Masse. “It’s the Great Lakes we are talking about, it affects 40 million people in the western basin. It’s a federal issue. I think the federal government needs to start doing their job on trying to mitigate what we put in this lake.
Masse says we need to stop treating Lake Erie as a sewer.
Environmentalists predict this year’s bloom in western Lake Erie will be one of the worst-ever recorded.
Environmentalists say the number one cause is run-off from farms containing high levels of phosphorous.
In June, the province signed an agreement with Ohio and Michigan to reduce the amount of phosphorous flowing into Lake Erie by 40 per cent, by 2025. Environmental groups are calling on the federal government to set similar targets.
“Those targets would set in motion action plans to reduce pol that gets into the lake and ideally see the occurrence of blooms diminish,” says Tony Maas of Freshwater Future Canada.
The precise solution will be diverse. Action plans will be rolled out over many years and he says monitoring them, will be crucial to their success.
“As action plans implemented is strength the monitoring programs so we have a sense if the action plans are resulting in reduction of phosphorous levels,” says Maas.