Last updated: August 26, 2016
Oh, Lake Erie, beautiful Lake Erie, what secrets lie beneath your surface? One fact is NO secret after every storm:Litter is NOT always in the bag. A lot of litter coats the bottom of Lake Erie and the shores that surround it. The real questions are: why is so much litter ending up in Lake Erie and what can be done about it? The EPA reports that about one-third of the total population of the Great Lakes basin lives in the Lake Erie watershed. Approximately twelve million people live in this watershed (). These twelve million people and the 12.9 billion dollar tourism industry (Sarah Glaser, Plain Dealer, July 30, 2015) leave a paper, plastic, and metal trail of marine debris. "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" slogan is just not stopping the deluge.
How do I know?I spent my lunch hours as a Perry's Victory Park Ranger during the summer of 2010 cleaning the tiny Put-in-Bay Historic Village Bathing Beach and the small beach on the western side of the Island over the park break wall. I picked up 73 large bags of trash. The bulk of the trash was plastic. Single-use plastic bottles, plastic toys, plastic glasses, tampon applicators, monofilament and plastic garbage bags constituted about 70% of the trash volume. Why do people continue to use plastic consumer products? Plastic containers for food and water are convenient and disposable.This is a winning combination for recreationists but not for the resource base that people are using. NOAA reports that in 2012, volunteers with the Adopt-a-Beach™program in the Great Lakes picked up 42,351 pounds of trash and other debris from the coastal areas they visited.Perhaps legislation needs to target the industry to cease the production of products that end up harming our environment.
More studies are needed, more money is needed, and more clean-up is needed. What about prevention? Something new has to be implemented to stop marine debris and the heavy load of plastics entering our waterways. Informed voters and politicians need to press on for industrial reforms. Plastics are seriously not the future.In fact their continued use disposal may seriously threaten the future.
LAKE SCIENTIST The online source for lake science and technology:http://www.lakescientist.com/microplastics-pollution-great-lakes-ecosystem-summary-presentations-iaglr-2014/
Lake Erie Improvement Association:http://www.lakeerieimprovement.org/lake-erie-tourism/
Lake Erie Lakewide Action and Management Plan Annual Report 2015:https://binational.net/2016/01/22/lelampar-2015-paaplera/
Lake Erie Shores and Islands 2015 Facts and Figures:https://www.shoresandislands.com/Media/documents/MediaResearch/fc39ebcb-142b-4fcd-a0cf-a07a7d3cf7cd.pdf
NOAA Marine Debris Program:https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/aggregator/sources/7
NOAA Is There a Garbage Patch in the Great Lakes?:http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/there-garbage-patch-great-lakes.html