Key actions under this strategy include:
- Develop or refine local watershed plans to meet the phosphorus reduction goals for the lake
- Target watershed restoration efforts to areas most prone to phosphorus losses
- Restore natural hydrology and ecological buffers to intercept nutrient runoff
Implementation of actions to reduce phosphorus loading to the Lake occurs at multiple scales. Local watershed planning is the building block for these efforts and has cumulative impacts on the Lake. Watershed management plans are being developed to not only have the goal of protecting and restoring water resources within the watershed, but also to contribute to the nutrient reductions needed for Lake Erie. Jurisdictions are seeking opportunities to enhance or refine local watershed plans to meet the phosphorus reduction goals for the Lake. Watershed managers are seeking opportunities to leverage funding, utilize non-traditional funding sources, and consider innovative approaches to maximize phosphorus reductions.
Using local watershed plans (where available) as the starting point, implementation efforts are prioritized to critical sources and areas with a high risk of phosphorus loss. Implementation and monitoring is coordinated within these priority areas and watersheds so that water quality improvements can be demonstrated.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is working in collaboration with other Great Lakes stakeholders interested in using wetlands for phosphorus reduction, including The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, academic institutions, and other federal agencies. Research and an engineering evaluation will inform decision-making about the potential for treatment wetlands to be a significant part of controlling phosphorus from agricultural runoff in the Great Lakes.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Department of Agriculture, along with local entities, will develop Watershed Implementation Plans or Nonpoint Source Implementation Strategic Plans (NPS-IS Plans) in priority watersheds not already covered by a plan.
Sandusky Bay has been recognized as a priority management area, and it contains some of the most significant coastal wetland systems in the Lake Erie basin. Under the Sandusky Bay Initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Ohio Lake Erie Commission will fund and complete engineering and design work for 12 planned restoration projects.
The Coastal Resources Management Program (CRM) was federally approved in 1980 and includes a wide variety of projects, including those that address phosphorus reductions and harmful algal blooms.
New York State (NYS) was not required to prepare a Domestic Action Plan (DAP), as binational phosphorus targets have not been established for the eastern basin under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance (LEWPA), in partnership with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), is developing a Nine Element (9E) Watershed Plan to maintain the “Interim Substance Objective for Total Phosphorous Concentration in Open Waters of Eastern Basin of Lake Erie.”
In rural landscapes, install two-stage ditches where feasible on both regulated and non-regulated drains.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will support the development and implementation of approved watershed management plans (WMPs) in Michigan’s portion of the Maumee River watershed and Michigan's watersheds that discharge directly into western Lake Erie.
Only a small portion (about 7 percent) of the Maumee watershed lies within Michigan’s borders. Michigan is partnering with Indiana, Ohio, the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey to ensure appropriate monitoring of the watershed. Though continued monitoring is needed, initial monitoring and analysis has revealed that certain parts of the Maumee watershed in Michigan have higher phosphorus concentrations than others.
Watershed planning helps identify critical areas, set local goals, and coordinate implementation of conservation practices. Development of news plans are underway in 26 HUC12 Maumee River watersheds to identify load reduction opportunities and establish far-field phosphorus targets at the watershed level. Far-field planning efforts look to meet overarching Annex 4 nutrient reduction goals, rather than goals for localized impairments. Existing plans will be updated to incorporate far-field phosphorus targets.