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Introduction to GreenWatch and Huge Lake Erie News

Filed under: Environmental

Introduction to GreenWatch

GreenWatch began in 1996 as collaboration between myself and Paul MacClennan, retired Buffalo News Environmental Reporter, and the Buffalo Institute of Urban Ecology, Inc. The purpose was to help to organize the local environmental community and to deliver a printed newsletter to the offices of elected officials and policy makers. GreenWatch moved online in 2009 as a direct response to the still ongoing Gulf Oil Deepwater Horizon disaster sponsored by BP. For weeks the only media coverage reflected BP talking points.  Our mission became engagement of media producers and consumers on the concepts of environmental and sustainability literacy both in our region and on a wider stage.

Today we have extraordinary and ongoing issues involving climate change, energy use and production, habitat and biodiversity loss, and wide ranging and ever widening environmental and social crisis’s and calamity. This affects our region, which is located on the Great Lakes, one of the planets most significant sources of freshwater and climatic stability. Our wild and built lands, peoples, businesses, governments, and social contexts are deeply affected by our understanding and stewardship of our world-class environmental contexts.

Today, GreenWatch covers the environment unlike any other media outlet. We post links and comments, host and participate in discussions, and promote advocacy of a wide variety of issues linked to environment, society and sustainability.  The bottom line is always the environment. We hope that you will read us, join us on facebook, follow us on twitter, and help us to engage in the critical and pressing questions that face our culture today, and for the foreseeable future.

GreenWatch on Facebook:

Twitter: @jayburney1

HUGE News-New IJC Report details rapid decline of Lake Erie waters

This past Thursday the IJC (International Joint Commission) released a startling new report detailing the rapidly declining conditions of the waters of lake Erie.  The report, called “A Balanced Diet for Lake Erie”, recommends that the lake be declared “Impaired” which will trigger action Under the U.S. Clean Water Act. 

The International Joint Commission is an international organization dedicated to Great Lakes water protections and was created as part of the Boundary Waters Treaty signed by the US and Canada in 1909.  Its mission is to essentially prevent and resolve Great Lakes water disputes between the two countries.

 From the IJC Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) website: “Based on the research of dozens of scientists from both sides of the border, the IJC found that water quality has declined over the past decade, with impacts on ecosystem health, drinking water supplies, fisheries, recreation, tourism and property values.

According to a CBC report: “The acting Canadian chair of the IJC, Gordon Walker, told the House of Commons environment committee that Lake Erie is in a crisis. Something has happened, he told federal MPs. It was all right 10 to 15 years ago, but not now. That something, according to Walker, is phosphorus from agricultural fertilizers getting into the lake.

The report concludes that phosphorus is getting back into Lake Erie from agricultural fertilizers used in growing corn for ethanol and other crops. Domestic lawn fertilizers are also a source of the phosphorus, said Walker. Every home wants to have it on their front lawn, he said. It all runs into the river and it’s untreated and that becomes a problem.”

The report says rivers in Indiana and Ohio that flow into Lake Erie are the largest sources of phosphorus, but some of it also comes from Ontario’s Grand and Thames rivers.

“We have our problems in Canada, in Ontario but they’re not nearly the same degree of a problem that we see over in the U.S. states,” said Walker in an interview with CBC News.

The report makes 16 specific recommendations including the banning of the use of fertilizers on frozen fields, and increasing the amount of protected wetlands that serve as a natural filter.

The IJC Report:

 Update: March 3, 2013– The IJC PDF file is experiencing occasional technical difficulties.  Here are two additional links to the IJC material regarding the report: 

“IJC Releases Recommendations to Protect Lake Erie”:

“Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP)”: