The Ohio Phosphorus Task Force II issued its final report this week on findings to support reduction of phosphorus loading and associated harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and surrounding watersheds.

Recommendations include the development of loading targets for the Maumee River watershed and other Lake Erie tributaries, expansion of current phosphorus monitoring programs, and suggestions for working with area stakeholders to improve soil health, nutrient retention, and proper timing and placement of applied fertilizers.

The report was created by a diverse working group of industry professionals including experts from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension; Ohio State University's Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab; the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; the Ohio Department of Agriculture; the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; and the Lake Erie Commission.

 "This report gives us an excellent road map for moving forward in phosphorus management in the Lake Erie watershed," said Ohio Sea Grant Director Jeff Reutter. "The challenge will be on the implementation side; that is to implement the 20 recommendations in this report."

Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie most often consist of Microcystis, a cyanobacterium -- more commonly called blue-green alga -- and can produce a number of toxins hazardous to the ecosystem, animals and people. The toxins can be removed from drinking water drawn from the lake, but the process increases the cost of water treatment.  In addition, harmful algal blooms can severely reduce tourism income, as recreational water use can be made dangerous by the toxin, or unpleasant by layers of blue-green algae floating on the water's surface.

The task force will continue to meet on a regular basis for further evaluation and publication of state and regional phosphorus management efforts.

The complete report can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/mhdmrkb.