Scientists have determined that the Great Lakes toxic algae blooms could be prevented and also that Americans would be willing to pay to see it done.
The Great Lakes are one of the most important water sources. They supply both the United States and Canada. Lake Erie is the fourth largest of the top 5 biggest American Great Lakes.
It is estimated to supply about 11 million residents with drinkable water. It also accounts for about 50 percent of the fish sources amongst the Great Lakes.
Besides its utility, it is also a major tourist attraction. As one of the area’s main touristic points, it is estimated to bring in about $1.7 billion.
Lake Erie and the Great Lakes are very important areas. As such, it should come as no big surprise that people are willing to pay to see them clean.
Great Lakes toxic algae blooms have been seen to develop. Over the past years, the area has seen a resurgence of the plants. The problem has been making headlines for some 15-20 years. However, since 2011, the issue has reportedly increased.
Still, a team of researchers has reportedly come up with a solution. They have been studying toxic algae blooms reduction means. Social structures and reactions were also included in the study.
Ohio States University researchers are amongst the leads of the new study. Their research results were released earlier this week. They were presented at the AGU or the American Geophysical Union.
The study was also published in a Journal of Great Lakes Research special issue. It was titled as follows. “Sustainable management of Great Lakes watersheds dominated by agricultural land use”.
Researchers have been testing different measures. As such, they established that a solution could be based on the agricultural practices.
These could come to ensure the application of the binational agreement. Earlier this year, the U.S. and Canada re-signed such an agreement. This seeks to reduce by 40 percent the Lake Erie phosphorus discharges.
Great Lakes toxic algae blooms are believed to be influenced by such discharges. Phosphorus has been determined to be one of the feeding sources of the algae.
As such, local agriculture could help get rid of the plant. They cut help through a number of measures. For example, they should stop applying fertilizers below the surface of the soil.
They could also buffer strips and plant cover crops. These latter work as a prevention measure. By using them, farmers can stop fertilizers from washing into the lakes’ waters.
Cover crops can be grown on plots that would have otherwise held no cultures. Buffer strips have a similar purpose.
They are most commonly planted on surrounding fields. Non-crop plants and grass are most usually grown in such areas.
The researchers to have carried out the fact already determined another fact. Some of the farmers in the area are already using such methods.
Percentages vary in accordance with the activity, in between 22 to 39 percent. As it is, they are about 20 percent less than they should be.
In order to reach the 40 percent phosphorus reduction, more farmers would have to get involved. Jay Martin has offered some details.
According to him, some farmers have already adopted the methods. This was a bold move on their part. They are, as such, helping protect the area. Still, the reaction has to be quite accelerated.
Martin is the Ohio University Field to Faucet director and water quality program leader. Their study found that residents are willing to get involved.
They are reportedly willing to adopt the new agricultural practices. And they would also reportedly transfer tax money in order to combat the Great Lakes toxic algae blooms.
Still, the said Martin pointed out that the costs will be quite high. As such, they should be expecting quite a long haul.
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