The federal and provincial governments plan to crack down on the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie – an effort intended to help prevent harmful algae blooms from developing in the lake.

An action plan aimed at cutting phosphorus pollution in the lake was released last week.

It includes 120 actions aimed at cutting the level of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 per cent by 2025.

Phosphorus is a primary cause of algae blooms, which can impact water quality and the health of any ecosystem in which they appear. Toxic algae blooms can also threaten human health. In Lake Erie specifically, they have created a so-called “dead zone” where there isn’t enough oxygen for fish to survive.

Specific measures laid out in the plan include establishing a legal limit on the amount of phosphorus that can enter the lake from wastewater treatment plants, creating a new program to fund new approaches to reducing phosphorus levels in the lake, and restoring natural wetlands.

The International Joint Commission recently said that more phosphorus in the western portion of Lake Erie comes from commercial fertilizer and manure than anywhere else.

Their study found that existing excess fertilizer phosphorus levels are high enough to affect nutrient levels in the lake for years, and possibly decades.

Other sources of phosphorus in Lake Erie include sewage treatment plants and septic systems.

According to the province, algae blooms in Lake Erie may cost the economy in the area around the lake about $270 million per year.

In 2020, Canadian and American officials will look at the feasibility of setting a specific phosphorus reduction target for the eastern Lake Erie basin as well.

With files from The Associated Press