RELATED: This story is a Web Extra featured in our Clean Water Works technical journal (Fall 2014)
Nutrients are one contributor to Lake Erie's well-being, with one particular nutrient—phosphorus—making news this season as toxic algae has threatened some parts of its western basin. Here are some phosphorus-specific facts and figures to help tell the story of nutrients and what affects their impact on our Great Lake.
- Lake Erie is the most productive Great Lake because it is the shallowest and warmest, and has the most nutrients.
- Lake Erie receives more sediment, more nutrients, and more pesticides than any of the other Great Lakes, due to the surrounding and uses.
- Lake Erie gets 80% of its water from the upper Great Lakes, 10% from direct precipitation, and 10% from Lake Erie Tributaries.
- The Maumee River is the largest tributary to the Great Lakes and it drains 4.5 million acres of agricultural land and contributes 3% of the flow into Lake Erie.
- The annual phosphorus load to Lake Erie has been reduced from 29,000 metric tons to less than 11,000; largely due to reductions from point sources.
- The amount of phosphorus that enters Lake Erie between March and June of each year is what is most important for algal growth.