Preventative maintenance: Restoring coastal wetlands to mitigate phosphorus loading and harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie

Ford, Gregary
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University of Guelph

This major research paper examines the major causes behind phosphorous loading and harmful algae bloom rates in Lake Erie. The goal of this research paper is to create a shoreline revitalization plan that minimize phosphorous loading rates to prevent harmful algae blooms. The objectives are to restore Great Lake coastal wetlands to control nonpoint source pollution of phosphorous inputs to Lake Erie, to revegetate the shoreline in mitigation of phosphorous-laden runoff and soil erosion, to increase Lake Erie's resiliency to climate change, and to reduce available substrate for Dreissena mussel attachment in efforts to curb aquatic invasive species colonization. To achieve this, the paper begins with an exploration of Lake Erie's phosphorous loading causes, the impacts this cycle incurs and the history of phosphorous management policy in Ontario. The paper then goes on to define three factors posed to exacerbate the rates and impacts of phosphorous loading within the Great Lakes basin. The research paper concludes with the creation of a shoreline restoration initiative called the Coastal Wetland Restoration Initiative. A technical description of how the proposed restored wetlands function in regards to phosphorous loading is provided, and the paper proceeds to illustrate how the proposed initiative addresses all outlined exacerbating conditions. The final section of the paper seeks to explore a framework of how the CWRI could be implemented within existing policies and governing bodies in Ontario.

phosphorous loading, algae bloom, Lake Erie, shoreline revitalization plan, mitigation, policy, Coastal Wetland Restoration Initiative