Why is this dire situation of nutrients and algal blooms being put on the back burner?
The nutrient situation is far from being on the back burner. The state of Ohio in 2007 convened a broad phosphorous task force (http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/lakeerie/ptaskforce/index.aspx) of scientists and managers to address the problem of phosphorous runoff which in part drives the algal blooms. The recommendations in the report from the experts on that task force are currently being implemented.
USEPA has committed a large amount of funding to research scientists to investigate why the lake has changed in recent years, why the algae has resurged, and what can be done to solve the problem.
USDA NRCS and USEPA have committed this year alone more than $8 million to help farmers in the watershed adopt conservation practices that will reduce nutrient runoff into the lake. These practices include nutrient management plans, animal waste storage structures, controlled drainage, precision nutrient management, cover crops and other important conservation practices. NRCS has provided some additional field level technical assistance in the Western Lake Erie Basin Project area to help educate farmers to the problem and assist in installing these conservation practices.
NRCS is working with other nongovernmental organizations in the watershed, including Environmental Defense, Conservation Action Project, and the Nature Conservancy, who are also active in promoting these practices to landowners and farmers.
Steve Davis, USDA – NRCS