The U.S. EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working on a variety of activities to monitor and asses water quality, while also working to develop tools to forecast harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. EPA is working to assess the condition of both the nearshore and offshore through routine water quality monitoring. Since 1983, the U.S. EPA has conducted twice yearly offshore water quality surveys at 20 fixed stations in Lake Erie. Periodic intensive studies under the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) provide more in-depth studies on Lake Erie. EPA is coordinating Clean Water Act and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative programs and funding to support enhanced monitoring of Lake Erie nearshore areas. The 2010 Great Lakes assessment conducted by the U.S. EPA’s National Coastal Condition Assessment found that over 30 percent of Lake Erie’s nearshore waters were in poor condition for excess phosphorus.

Offshore water quality survey sampling stations.

State of the Great Lakes reports are produced jointly by the U.S. EPA and Environment and Climate Change Canada to provide independent, science-based reporting on the health of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. These assessments are informed by long term surveillance programs and by periodic intensive studies under CSMI.  

Additional water quality monitoring is being conducted by NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory through weekly monitoring cruises and real-time buoy monitoring of relevant water quality parameters. Weekly airborne observations over U.S. and Canadian waters also aid in monitoring the movement of HABs. NOAA is working to deploy an in-lake Environmental Sample Processor, which will provide water intake managers early warning of HAB toxicity. Other efforts lead by NOAA are publishing an early season HAB forecast (based on tributary loads) and a twice weekly HAB Bulletin during the bloom season. In addition, NOAA is producing a near-term hypoxia forecast for water intakes.