Governments of Canada and the United States announce phosphorus reduction targets of 40 percent to improve Lake Erie water quality

News Release

New targets to reduce toxic and nuisance algae blooms affecting Lake Erie

February 22, 2016Washington, D.C. – Environment and Climate Change Canada

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today announced that Canada and the United States have adopted targets to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie.

Algae occur naturally in freshwater systems. They are essential to the aquatic food web and healthy ecosystems. However, too much algae, linked to high amounts of phosphorus, can lead to conditions that can harm human health and the environment.

Through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States committed to combat the growing threat of toxic and nuisance algae development in Lake Erie, and agreed to develop updated binational phosphorus reduction targets for Lake Erie by February 2016.


“Canada recognizes the urgency and magnitude of the threat to Lake Erie water quality and ecosystem health posed by toxic and nuisance algal blooms. By establishing these targets, we strengthen our resolve to work with our American neighbours, and Canadian and United States stakeholders who share these waters, to protect the tremendous natural resource that is Lake Erie.”
– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“To protect public health, we must restore the Great Lakes for all those who depend on them. The first step in our urgent work together to protect Lake Erie from toxic algae, harmful algal blooms, and other effects of nutrient runoff, is to establish these important phosphorus limits. But, establishing these targets is not the end of our work together. We are already taking action to meet them.”
– Gina McCarthy, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Quick facts

  • The 2015 harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie was recorded as the largest bloom this century.
  • More than 40 Canadian and American experts formed a binational team under the leadership of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop the targets.
  • In Canada, more than 50 individuals, groups and agencies representing agricultural and other non‑governmental organizations, Conservation Authorities, municipal governments, Ontario government agencies, First Nations, and universities commented on the draft targets through an online tool and face‑to‑face discussions.

Associated link

For additional information on the joint targets, please visit


Caitlin Workman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada

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