For the past few early months of 2021, the Foundation has been helping the public connect and “have their say” with the team at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) about their plans for managing algae blooms on Lake of the Woods. A big thank you to all who took the time to participate in the Zoom webinars, ask questions of ECCC, and also to those who provided responses to the questions ECCC posed on its Lake of the Woods Engagement website. The webinars were well attended; thought-provoking questions were asked and many people provided their thoughts on what they want ECCC to do! We heard that now is the time for action to be taken, now that the science is done. We heard support for setting targets that will protect the lake in the future; and that any strategies should be done in close communication with the state of Minnesota. ECCC presented three potential phosphorus reduction scenarios for the lake based on results of its four-year science program:
- 5% reduction: a do-nothing option via natural lake flushing over decades.
- 20% reduction – that meets most ecosystem objectives and is in line with Minnesota’s plans.
- 30% reduction – that meets all the ecosystem objectives but will require substantial effort to achieve.
We heard a variety of opinions on which is the best approach, but it was clear that the public feels it is time to act now and move ahead to set water quality objectives and reduction targets – and that an ongoing monitoring program is essential to support adaptive management to accommodate for future climate change and development changes.
Although ECCC’s formal engagement period is over at the end of April 2021, we encourage everyone to continue to push for action! The Foundation will continue to press our governments to move from science to action and develop a plan for our great lake.