Harkins: New Great Lakes Commission website tracks progress in protecting Lake Erie

ERIE, Feb. 2  A new website launched by the Great Lakes Commission will track the progress of critical efforts to protect the Great Lakes, including efforts to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today.

Harkins, who sits on the Great Lakes Commission, said the website – www.blueaccounting.org – will share data from work groups that will help shape policymaking.

“I’m extremely excited about the new website,” Harkins said. “Protecting our lake and watershed requires close collaboration between scientists and policymakers, and the new site will ensure that decisions about the lake – which directly affect our health, environment and economy – are guided by accurate data.”

Harkins said the website will track progress toward specific goals – including reducing the runoff of phosphorus that is responsible for the harmful algae that has threatened drinking water and the multiple industries that rely on Lake Erie.

“The new website is going to help us understand what strategies are working and where new policies are needed to better protect the lake. It’s going to be an extremely helpful tool as we continue working to safeguard the health of this precious and critically important resource,” he said.

Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the U.S. and Canada – including the Lake Erie states and the province of Ontario – have agreed to work together to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the western and central basins of Lake Erie by 40% from 2008 levels.

Approximately 11 million people rely on Lake Erie for drinking water, which also plays an essential role in supporting tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, agriculture, and manufacturing industries in surrounding states.