Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP)

Technical Documents

These technical background documents were instrumental in the development of the LEEP draft report.

Atmospheric Deposition of Phosphorus

This paper is a critical review of the contribution of atmospheric phosphorus deposition to the total phosphorus loadings to lake ecosystems, with a special focus on the relevance of this source to Lake Erie and the Laurentian Great Lakes. It suggests that atmospheric phosphorus is not negligible to total phosphorus loadings to lakes of varying surface areas, and may contribute a significant portion of soluble reactive phosphorus to lake ecosystems.

Nutrient Management Inventory

This report aims to develop a better understanding of how governments are currently addressing the issue of nutrient management in the Great Lakes Basin. It has identified legislation, policies and programs at the federal, provincial/state level that fall into four main categories.

Cyanobacterial Blooms

For the last two decades, Lake Erie has been threatened by annual blooms of toxic cyanobacteria during summer months. Despite intensive research and management efforts, the duration and toxicity of the blooms appears to be expanding in recent years. The goals of this review are to highlight recent scientific efforts and policy practices regarding these bloom events in Lake Erie and describe potential future research needs and directions.

Phosphorus Monitoring in Lake Erie

This report developed a geospatial map showing existing monitoring efforts that collect data to calculate U.S. and Canadian phosphorus loading, both total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus in Lake Erie.  Based off of previous work, the work group collected data about current monitoring programs on both the U.S. and Canadian portions of the Lake Erie basin and created a consolidated list.

Fish Climate Nutrient Impacts

Continued climate change holds great potential to alter Lake Erie’s fish communities through its effects on in-lake physicochemical (habitat) conditions. To date, however, a general appreciation for how Lake Erie’s fisheries are expected to respond to continued climate change is lacking, particularly with respect to processes that influence the delivery of subsidies (i.e., nutrients, sediments) from the watershed. This report discusses four primary ways by which climate change might interact with the delivery of nutrients and sediments from the watershed to influence the fish community of Lake Erie.

Reducing P Loads to Lake Erie:  Best Management Practices Literature Review

Strong correlations exist between phosphorus (P) loads discharged into Lake Erie and phytoplankton production (Anderson et al. 2002). Based on concerns over harmful algal blooms and other ecological impacts, the International Joint Commission requested a review of best management practices (BMPs) used to reduce P loading to surface waters. This review provides an overview of BMPs that are employed to reduce P loads, BMPs that are likely to be considered for implementation within the Lake Erie basin to reduce P discharges in stormwater. The review is divided into two sections, urban and rural BMPs. Individual BMPs are often designed to reduce an array of pollutant loads, most commonly they are designed to reduce peak flow and total suspended solids – particularly in urban environments. This review specifically focuses on BMPs that have been evaluated using scientific methods for P reduction. A secondary focus was to highlight BMPs that have been implemented within the Lake Erie watershed, or at least in the Great Lake region.

TAcLE Summary Report

The Taking Action on Lake Erie (TAcLE) Task Force initiated a series of workgroups to evaluate the current status and threats, the effectiveness of current management measures and the potential impacts of climate change. This was undertaken as a series of white papers, which were tabled for review and discussion at an expert workshop. This report summarizes the major results of this effort, with focus on the following key issues.


The documents above are working drafts prepared for the IJC’s Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) and are not for citation. Views expressed are solely those of the authors. See the LEEP report for findings and recommendations from the IJC.

Human Health Effects from Harmful Algal Blooms: a Synthesis

This report was prepared by the International Joint Commission’s Health Professionals Advisory Board. The report addresses the objective to assess the human health impacts associated with harmful algal blooms (HABs) especially those associated with blue-green algae or cyanobacteria blooms (cyanoHABs).   The objective of the report is to summarize the state of science on this topic to help other environmental health scientists or subsequent work by HPAB to further the understanding of this human health concern, raise awareness, and protect public health.  The report was completed as part of an effort to Integrate Ecosystem & Human Health Surveillance Data and that work is part of a Commission project to Improve the Delivery of Great Lakes Scientific Information to managers and the public.