The changes caused by declining ice cover on the Great Lakes are pretty bad, but it's not all doom and gloom. Ice cover on the Great Lakes has declined in the past 40 years with average ice coverage dropping up to 75 per cent, depending on the lake. "We rely a lot on the Great Lakes for shipping ... so an ice-free Great Lake is not a barrier to shipping. But beyond that there are a lot of negatives associated," said Mike McKay, the executive director for the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), based at the University of Windsor.
A handful of Chatham farms might hold the answer to reducing toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes. These farms are collecting and analyzing their agricultural runoff, in hope of reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the waterways. It's part of a project, started by two organizations in Spring 2016, which aims to come up with a strategy to deal with toxic algae blooms. Out of that idea for the project — between the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative — came the Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative.
A watershed board focused on protecting Lake of the Woods is calling on Manitoba's provincial government to reduce the amount of phosphorus running into the basin. The organization wants the governments of Manitoba, Ontario and Canada to commit to an 18.4 per cent reduction in phosphorus loads to improve the health of the water body.