LAMPs will be shining a light on environmental and other challenges in the Great Lakes.
LAMP stands for Lakewide Action and Management Plan, and work to update plans for the Great Lakes is laid out in the latest version of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the U.S., which entered into force in early 2013.
“The LAMP is a planning document that summarizes the state of the lake, the significant threats in the lake, and what actions are needed to address those threats,” said Laurie Wood, Great Lakes issue coordinator for Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Issue Management and Reporting Section in Burlington, Ontario.
“It gives agencies and organizations direction on what’s needed in each lake to meet the objectives in the Agreement.”
Annex 2 of the revised Agreement, titled “Lakewide Management,” is intended “to contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement by assessing the status of each Great Lake, and by addressing environmental stressors that adversely affect the Waters of the Great Lakes which are best addressed on a lakewide scale through an ecosystem approach.”
“Annex 2 requires Canada and the U.S. to develop Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs) for each Great Lake every five years,” said James Schardt, with Region 5 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), based in Chicago. That includes identifying priorities for a binational cooperative science and monitoring initiative, headed by EPA and Environment Canada.
There hasn’t been a LAMP update for any of the Great Lakes since 2008. A LAMP for Lake Superior is due to be produced this year, followed by Lake Huron in 2016, Lake Ontario in 2017, Lake Erie in 2018, and Lake Michigan in 2019.
“There is also a five-year cycle for science and monitoring, done on a binational basis for each lake,” Wood said. “The results of this inform our assessment of the state of the lake ecosystem and future priorities for the lake.”
Scientists are trying to answer several questions for Lake Huron, including food-web dynamics and the impacts of nutrients like phosphorus from urban and agricultural sources.
“We face a challenge in Lake Huron in that the offshore areas are very nutrient-poor …” Schardt said. “In the near-shore areas, we see increased algal growth.”
In the U.S., spring regional public meetings were held this year to discuss the LAMP process for Lake Huron, to build awareness and gather input from local governments, non-governmental agencies and other interested people.
“It’s basically looking at the state of the science and working binationally to come up with priorities to protect Great Lakes water quality in the broadest sense,” Schardt said during one of the meetings. “It incorporates the chemical nature of Lake Huron water quality, nutrients, and also broader habitat and species that help create a healthy environment.”
In Canada, Environment Canada has spearheaded outreach and engagement activities for years on Lake Huron with community-based groups, Wood noted.
“Under this new Agreement, there has been a renewed energy for collaboration and cooperation between the two countries to identify and address key priorities in each lake, and in a way that’s coherent and consistent,” Wood said.
For more on the LAMP process, see binational.net.