Lake Erie experienced the 3rd largest algae bloom in history last summer. Despite promises to clean up the lake, the problem is not getting better. So we took action.


Last summer, western Lake Erie experienced yet another severe algal bloom. In fact, it was the the third largest this century. Green scum lapped at Toledo’s shores, local governments issued beach advisories, and people checked municipal websites to ensure their water was safe to drink. This came three years after toxic algae caused a massive water shutoff—affecting half a million people—and promises by the governments of Michigan, Ohio and Ontario to address the issue.

This perennial problem is caused by agricultural runoff and it poses serious health risks. But three years after making a commitment to clean up Lake Erie, state and provincial leaders have done little to curb the runoff pollution that feeds toxic algae.  

This is unacceptable. So we took it upon ourselves to show what is, or more often, what is not being done.

We worked with partners at Freshwater Future to develop a first of it’s kind report detailing a blueprint for cleaning up Lake Erie. Our original report shows the lackluster progress by the states and province toward their clean Lake Erie commitment. It also provides clear policy recommendations the governments could adopt right now to address the problem.

Hundreds of people from the around Lake Erie basin tuned into our webinar releasing the report, and asked questions about the issue and how to get involved. Later that summer, more than 14,000 people from around Lake Erie wrote letters calling for action and accountability from their state leaders.

On October 20th, the Great Lakes governors and premiers gathered in Detroit for their biennial meeting. Alliance President & CEO Joel Brammeier attended, and he carried messages from thousands of constituents.

At the summit, the governors and premiers emphasized the importance of improving efforts to track the flow of runoff pollution into Lake Erie. While we agree that effective monitoring and public transparency is a critical step, it’s only part of the puzzle. Farming is massively important to the economies and the people of the Great Lakes states and provinces. Unfortunately today, communities far from the source of agricultural pollution are bearing the brunt of the resulting economic damage and negative health impacts. We need to change this.  

Together, our voices are strong. Thanks to your support, the Alliance is poised to keep up the pressure on Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to follow through with their clean Lake Erie commitments and report back to the public exactly what they’re doing to protect our water. We’re keeping a close eye on the issue and we will continue to push for real action toward cleaning up Lake Erie.