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Michigan Environment
The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life.

New report on Great Lakes pushes monitoring, regulations for farmers

Elizabeth Miller-ideastream

A new report from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national agency, says the Great Lakes restoration continues to progress -- but not quickly enough.

The commission makes several recommendations to the U.S. and Canada, as part of a review of a 2012 water quality agreement.

Among them is evaluating farm practices aimed at reducing pollution –- especially the fertilizer runoff that feeds algae blooms in Lake Erie. 

IJC Commissioner Lana Pollack says that will show whether the money is well spent. "You could save a lot of money if you spent a little money on monitoring. Figure out what works, what doesn’t work, and stop paying for things that don’t work.”

The IJC calls for mandatory, enforceable standards for farmers instead of voluntary efforts.

The report also calls for improving sewage treatment facilities and moving more quickly to address harmful chemicals. And it says Ohio’s portion of western Lake Erie should be labeled impaired, which could lead to tougher regulation.

But the IJC cannot enforce its policies – it can only make recommendations to the U.S. and Canada.