Lake Erie Algae (ErieStat)

Michigan’s Phosphorus Control Strategies


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Binational Strategy

Michigan Implementation Details

Reduce phosphorus loading from agricultural sources

Consistent with the Lake Erie Adaptive Management Plan released on December 17, 2021, staff from the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development are accelerating efforts to build an “Ag Inventory” to assure that conservation activities intended to reduce phosphorus loss from agricultural land are installed the right places, maximizing effectiveness. This effort benefits from federal and state sources of funding, including a $25M state appropriate geared toward driving landscape-level change to improve Lake Erie watersheds.

Reduce phosphorus loadings from municipal sources

Michigan achieved the aspirational 20% by 2020 goal agreed upon by former governors of Michigan and Ohio and the former premier of Ontario within a Collaborative Agreement signed in 2015 and carried forward by current leadership. Reductions were achieved by working with four key communities discharging treated wastewater to the Detroit River. Through fine-tuning of treatment processes, significant reductions were achieved.

Support watershed-based planning and restoration efforts

To meet the nonpoint source challenge in Michigan’s portion of the Western Lake Erie basin, the state believes more focused and accelerated activities are necessary at localized (field-scale) and subwatershed levels to better understand the current conditions on the landscape and focus on the implementation of BMPs to reduce agricultural nonpoint source pollution delivery to Lake Erie. The state is planning and implementing agricultural inventories in 13 priority subwatersheds in the Bean Creek and River Raisin Watersheds. Additional U.S. Geological Survey water quality gaging stations have been installed in key subwatersheds to assess this more-targeted BMP implementation approach and to better detect changes at the subwatershed level.

Coordinate science, research, and monitoring

Michigan agencies continue to work together on research to reduce uncertainty as phosphorus control efforts continue. This includes research on the data and variables relied upon to establish soil test phosphorus and fertilizer application rate standards and recommendations.

Enhance communication and outreach

Michigan agency staff will continue to work with the Great Lakes Commission to annually update this content and share progress being made in reducing phosphorus loss in Michigan’s Lake Erie watersheds through implementation of Michigan’s  Domestic Action Plan for Lake Erie and Lake Erie Adaptive Management Plan.

Michigan’s DAP Team, which includes senior management staff from the departments of Agriculture & Rural Development; Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy; and Natural Resources are hosting a quarterly webinar series to update stakeholders on progress of efforts under the Domestic Action Plan (DAP) and companion Adaptive Management Plan (AMP). This webinar series is an opportunity for the public, agency partners, and anyone who wants to know what Michigan is doing to reduce nutrient loading to Lake Erie. For additional information on when these webinars will occur, please visit

The state is also in the process of forming a Western Lake Erie Basin Advisory Group and Science Panel to provide the necessary input and feedback to the DAP Team over the next three years to enable it to achieve the following goals:

Goal 1: Stakeholders confirm the value of the DAP and AMP nutrient reduction actions and provide input to appropriately frame them to avoid public misunderstanding and/or misinformation.

Goal 2: DAP and AMP actions are informed by a broad range of stakeholder perspectives and the best critical thinking (i.e., near real-time peer review).

Goal 3: Nutrient reduction work is characterized by a cross-sector, collaborative effort including necessary commitments to help achieve the nonpoint source target of a 250 Metric Ton Total Phosphorus load reduction by 2025.

Goal 4: Both rural and urban stakeholders in the Michigan portion of the WLEB understand and support nutrient reduction actions that are, or can be, taken in their community to accelerate progress.