Lake Erie Water Pollution Research Paper
Scientists have discovered that the level of pollution in the western bank of Lake Erie has been increasing over the past decade. The increase in cyanobacteria and algae is a clear indication that there are pollutants in the water from different rivers that feed the lake. Studies have revealed that there is a high amount of phosphorus in the water, and there are also untreated industrial wastes present in the lake.
Lake Erie is popularly known for its high pollution level in the 1970s, whereby the industrial sector had released high amounts of toxic waste into the shallow lake. The high pollution rate led to the death of many species of fish and an increase in algae and bacteria in the lake. However, through the combined efforts of the industrial sector, the communities around the lake, and the authorities, conservation measures were applied to save the lake.
The lake was liberated from the brink of death, but it is apparent that over the past several years, the Western side of the lake has been experiencing an increase in green slime, which has been associated with high toxicity. There are worries among the members of the community that the lake could be facing another episode of high toxicity, and they have called for the authorities to investigate the main causes of the pollution in an attempt to mitigate the occurrence of another catastrophe in the lake. This paper looks into the main cause of pollution in Lake Erie today.
This study utilizes secondary material as the main source of information to highlight the main cause of pollution in the Western bank of the Lake Erie. The secondary material includes scholarly journals retrieved from online libraries. The information from the sources has been peer-reviewed for validity; hence, the findings of the research are reliable.
Scientists at the Heidelberg University National Center for Water Quality Research have revealed that the depth of Lake Erie implies that the water is replaced every 2.5-3 years (Burlakova et al. 563). This is one of the main reasons that it was possible for the lake to recover from the extensive water pollution in the 1970s (Allinger and Reavie 369). However, there has been an increase in cyanobacteria and algae in some parts of the lake over the last decade, which implies that there is a new source of pollution that is threatening the lake.
The scientists have been studying the quality of the water in the rivers that feed the lake, and it is apparent that the industries around the lake have been treating their waste-water adequately. However, scientists have discovered that there is a high concentration of phosphorus runoff in the rivers feeding the lake. The phosphorus runoff is associated with the agricultural lands in the region, which reveals that the use of fertilizers and herbicides is to blame for the increasing toxicity of the lake.
A study by various environmental scientists also revealed that there is a high amount of Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) isomers in the sediments in the western bank of Lake Erie. Further analysis of the Detroit River indicated that it is the source of the HBCD, and since it feeds the lake from the western bank, the sediments are diluted as they head to the eastern bank; thus, only the western bank reveals the increasing toxicity in the water. The presence of HBCD in the Detroit River is an indication that there are manufacturers, especially in the plastics, textile, or building industries that are into the river (. 32).
Another study has revealed that River Maumee is also a major contributor to the increase in phosphorus in Lake Erie. The research revealed that the levels of phosphorus in the lake and the River Maumee have been increasing simultaneously. The increase in phosphorus is particularly seen during the high precipitation seasons in the region, which implies that most of the phosphorus runoff is from the agricultural land in the region (. 3393).
It is apparent that the increase in pollution in Lake Erie is a function of the changes in land use in the region. The high levels of phosphorus in the runoff water from the rivers that feed the lake have caused changes in the temperature of the water, and a subsequent increase in the number of bacteria and algae. These changes are bound to affect the growth of planktons in the lake. The changes in the temperature of the water in the western bank are also expected to have a negative repercussion on the biodiversity of the lake (. 804).
Additionally, scientists have also identified an increase of HBCD in the Detroit River that feeds Lake Erie from the western side. The presence of the HBCD isomers in large quantities is a clear indication that there are manufacturing companies releasing untreated wastewater into the river (. 158).
The authorities and the members of the community should look into establishing the culprits causing high pollution rates in the rivers that feed Lake Erie. Additionally, efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the lake should be intensified while compelling farmers to use environmentally friendly products in their farms. Immediate action should be taken to prevent a repeat of the high pollution level in Lake Erie, which almost eliminated the entire population of fish in the water.