Lake Erie is sick.
March 24, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Spring Rain, Then Foul Algae in Ailing Lake Erie: [New York Times]
"A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."
posted by Fizz (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid, 35 years ago, I recall asking my mom, born on the Great Lakes, why do they call it "Lake Eerie?"

"Because it's scary how polluted it is."

Some things never change.

change the name!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:28 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Maybe the lake is doing its best to scare humans away.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:29 AM on March 24, 2013

I happened to be listening to Randy Newman singing "Burn On" when I saw this post.
There's a red moon rising
On the Cuyahoga River
Rolling into Cleveland to the lake
posted by pracowity at 10:30 AM on March 24, 2013

Thanks--This hits home. I am surprised I have been missing this. Much appreciated.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:49 AM on March 24, 2013

I'm amazed the pellets are just broadcast instead of being injected into the ground the way the seeds are. I would have figured it was a single step process that would use seed drills and fertilizer drills at the same time.

This is how I fertilize tomatoes in my garden; I dig a hole for the transplant and then mix a bit of fertilizer in the soil at the bottom of the hole before plopping in the transplant. Made easier because a tomato transplant hole is several times larger than the transplant.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 AM on March 24, 2013

Light it on fire again.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:53 AM on March 24, 2013

Lake Erie is -- and has been -- sick.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:55 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I think I'm going to go re-read some Rachel Carson.
posted by Fizz at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2013

See, this is why we can't have nice things.
posted by nowhere man at 11:50 AM on March 24, 2013

Light it on fire again.

That's the Cuyahoga River. Erie has never been on fire, though perhaps it might help.

I live in Toledo, and spent summers on the Lake in Port Clinton. Erie has been sick my whole life, but in recent years, it has become frighteningly so.

We stopped eating fish from the Lake years ago, which pains me greatly. Some of my fondest memories are of Opa and I taking his boat out to fish just off West Sister Island, then taking our catch ashore to clean and cook over a campfire. Very little in this world tastes as good as a walleye you caught an hour ago, cooked perfectly in a cast iron pan over an open fire.

We don't swim in it any more, either. During last year's MS 150 Bike to the Bay, we booked a hotel directly across from the beach. After the first leg of the ride, we went to our hotel to crash for a few hours, then walked across the street to the beach. It was...bleak. And heartbreaking. It's killing small towns like Port Clinton.
posted by MissySedai at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Is this something the Canada's globally-renown Experimental Lakes Area long-term freshwater research might be able to help us understand?

Oh, but nevermind. The Harper Canada Government is shutting it down. It's not important to know these things!

I'm not bitter.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:34 PM on March 24, 2013 [16 favorites]

Going on ten years ago I went camping at Rondeau Provincial Park, which is on the north shore of Lake Erie. The water level of the bay on the east side of the park was so low boats couldn't navigate it any more (a nearby bar was going out of business as a result) and you couldn't really fish in it. Then we visited the beach, which was covered in billions of dead ladybugs. I was there with a friend whose parents had a cottage nearby when was a kid, and he and his friends talked all weekend about how much nicer the area had been back then. I felt like a character in The Sheep Look Up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:32 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Light it on fire again.

How about we figure out how to harvest the bloom and turn it into biodiesel and phosphorous rich fertilizer?
posted by porpoise at 3:43 PM on March 24, 2013

I was in Erie, PA last week. I didn't see any algae but I did see hundreds of fish swimming upside-down, dying. And thousands of dead that had already died. It was in a place called Misery Bay on Presque Isle State Park.
posted by beau jackson at 8:35 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

And the western states want us to sell water from the Great Lakes to them. Bad idea all around.
posted by charred husk at 6:17 AM on March 25, 2013

Looks like things have gotten even worse at Rondeau since I was there.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:17 AM on March 25, 2013

Does organic farming have the same impact on the lake? The article mentions both artificial fertilizer and animal waste being used as fertilizer. My understanding is that organic farming has results in dramatically less phosphorous runoff to bodies of water but I'd love to get Metafilter's opinion on that.
posted by exhilaration at 1:16 PM on March 25, 2013

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