Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Lake Erie Foundation?
The Lake Erie Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 2016 to sustain and protect the waters of Lake Erie, knowing that a long-term effort was needed to protect the entire lake. The Lake Erie Foundation (LEF) is Lake Erie’s advocate for economic sustainability, legal defense, education, outreach, and innovative sustainable technology. Its mission is to Create and Maintain a Healthy Lake Erie Now and Forever.
Who runs the organization; how does it operate?
LEF is governed by a 15-member board of directors and several board advisors; all volunteers who represent a variety of professions and links to the lake. Among the board members you will find business and property owners, educators, scientists, a farmer, charter fishing captain, boaters, and others committed to a healthy Lake Erie. A two-person paid staff team provides support for day-to-day operations. Board, Advisors & Staff Listing
What are the main activities of the LEF?
LEF’s efforts include: collaborating with organizations working to develop solutions to Lake Erie’s challenges, advocating for legislative efforts required to protect the lake, generating additional support for Lake Erie by educating the public about the issues, supporting local efforts spearheaded by community organizations throughout the Lake Erie watershed, working with the agricultural community by supporting farmers to target funding and implement conservation practices that will help protect the lake, partnering with other Great Lakes organizations to address the many shared challenges and representing Lake Erie at boat shows and other events.
What are some recent major accomplishments?
LEF 2018 summary of Activities & Accomplishments’
How is the LEF funded?
LEF is funded through a membership program, business sponsorships, grants, and charitable contributions; primarily from those who live, visit, and do business in the Lake Erie watershed.
How can I become a member or sponsor?
How can I help the LEF in other ways?
Attend one of our periodic education events to learn more about the challenges and efforts to protect the lake, volunteer at our booth at a community event or trade show, talk to your legislators about the importance of a healthy Lake Erie, tell others about the LEF and our efforts to generate additional support, learn what you can do in your own backyard to help protect Lake Erie.
ABOUT THE ISSUES
What is the main challenge Lake Erie is facing?
Lake Erie’s primary challenge is the potentially dangerous occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs), episodes during which large quantities of harmful forms of algae appear in the lake. While not all algae are harmful, certain types under certain conditions can cause a variety of illnesses for both humans and animals. Large algal blooms can also significantly deplete oxygen in water and consequently kill off aquatic life.
What can cause a harmful algal bloom?
Algal blooms are episodes during which large quantities of algae feed on nutrients present in the water, namely phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients enter Lake Erie and its tributaries primarily from agricultural fertilizer and manure runoff, wastewater discharges, failing septic systems, dredge materials, and lawn fertilizer runoff. The nutrients are also present in various degrees in existing lake sediment. When there is a high concentration of these nutrients and the lake warms up in the summer, harmful algal blooms can be the result.
Does Lake Erie experience other challenges?
While harmful algal blooms receive the majority of attention at present, there are many other challenges to a healthy and productive lake that the LEF and other organizations focus on. This list includes: dredging issues, drinking water quality, invasive species, wind turbine placement, storm water runoff, plastic contamination, wetland loss, and more.
What can be done to protect Lake Erie?
While there is ongoing discussion concerning the best methods to address Lake Erie’s various challenges, numerous agencies and organizations have identified the following as the main actions that should be taken:
- A 40% reduction in the amount of phosphorus and a reduction of nitrogen that annually enters Lake Erie.
- “Best Management Practices” for agriculture designed to obtain the greatest phosphorus reductions to achieve the nutrient reduction goals.
- Accountability, measurement and reporting for the dollars that have so far been spent to reduce the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen in the lake.
- Lowering the target amount of phosphorus in agricultural soil to match the crop need rate that has been established for commercial fertilizer.
- Adherence to the federal Clean Water Act recommendations for a “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL) of phosphorus in Lake Erie and its tributaries.
- Implementation of the USEPA nine-step watershed management process.
- Funding for additional measures to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes.
- Encourage the USEPA to adopt standards for recreational contact and drinking water as these apply to microcystin, PFAs, and other toxins.
- Encourage additional funding for technology and equipment necessary for phosphorus reduction strategies.
- Continued education and outreach to inform the public/organizations about Lake Erie’s waters and fish.
Where can I learn more about algal blooms and current efforts to protect Lake Erie?
Visit other sections in this website and also the Ohio Sea Grant’s algal bloom FAQ page.