Contamination of the waters of Lake Erie has been going on since a very long time. Beginning from the year 1969 where legislative measures were taken up to control the pollution of the lake and protect aquatic life in it and ensure that the lake was safe for humans too, the quality of the water has undergone many changes from bad to worse. The reasons that lead to the contamination, their effects on the quality of the water and the resultant damage have been carefully studied and examined by researchers and ecologists all over the world.
Lake Erie today represents one of the worst cases of stratification and environmental pollution associated with human activities, urbanization and agriculture. Water Contamination Lake Erie is one of the smallest among the five Great Lakes in terms of its measurement. Bounded by Ontario in Canada and New York in the United States, this lake got so polluted that it made it to the headlines of the national news in the month of June 1969.
With an average depth of sixty-two feet and two hundred feet being one of the deepest parts, Lake Erie underwent extreme contamination due to the disposal of sewage and contamination through toxic heavy metals and the usage of pesticides in agriculture. According to Professor Henry Regier of the University of Toronto (1993), “When you die you will be replaced by billions and billions of living microbes. You will be reorganized in a different form. That is what is happening to Lake Erie.
There is a dead zone occupying perhaps one-quarter of the central basin of the lake. This area is not really dead. ” In 2004 again, more than eight billion gallons of storm water and untreated sewage was discharged into the waterways of the Lake Erie basin. These were laden with harmful bacteria like Salmonella, disease-causing parasites like Giardia and Cryptosporidium and deadly viruses like the Hepatitis-A virus. In 2005, unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria were found in the waters of the lake.
Lake Erie was severely affected by industrial runoff that one of its tributaries, the Cuyahoga River, caught fire in the year 1969, which lead to the Clean Water Act of 1972. From becoming a victim to the damaging effects of sewage disposal through other sources, Lake Erie along with the other companion Great Lakes has tuned into a large source of contamination by itself today. The Great Lakes are now a source of many chemicals to other regions of the globe (The International Air Quality Advisory Board, 1998).
Areas in Canada and Scandinavia and beyond are in danger due to the chemicals from Lake Erie that infiltrated them through the air. Though there exists a possibility that the pollutants are changing from volatile chemicals into gases dispersed by the winds, there is no hope that the contamination will come to and end. Don McKay (1998), a member of the Canadian board stated, “The contamination is merely taking up a new address and isn’t really going away. We will not be able to say we’ve eliminated these pesticides from our environment. Where you’ve got more pollutant, it’s going to go to where there is less.
” Nearly forty percent of the swimmers suffered from nausea, diarrhoea, stomachaches and headaches after a swim in lake Erie. Due to the environmental contamination, the upper water layer reached temperatures of 26’ C while the lower layers have a temperate of 6’-8’ C. This has lead to stratification, the death of planktons, the production of deadly gases in which the deadly spore-forming bacteria ‘botulinum’ thrives and zebra, quagga mussels do not survive in the waters of lake Erie beyond a day or two. More than half the area of the lake is now ‘anoxic’ which means there is less than 0.
5 mg of dissolved oxygen per litre of water. There is a hypothesis that the contamination of the lake began as early as post the Second World War because of the agents and chemicals used in killing the insects and bugs in the cotton fields. After the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972 was signed, the phosphorous levels of Lake Erie decreased significantly to 1mg/ L of water. According to Gordon Durnil (1998-1992), “It is clear to us that persistent toxic substances have caused widespread injury to the environment and to human health.
As a society we can no longer afford to tolerate their presence in our environment and in our bodies. Hence, if a chemical or group of chemicals is persistent, toxic and bio accumulative, we should immediately begin a process to eliminate it. Since it seems impossible to eliminate discharges of these chemicals through other means, a policy of banning or sun setting their manufacture, distribution, storage, use and disposal appears to be the only alternative. ” References David Dolan, M. (1993). Point source loadings of phosphorus to Lake Erie.
Journal of Great Lakes Research (Vol. 19, no. 2, 212-223). Retrieved from www. iaglr. org Katherine Rizzo, (1998) Reversal of fortune: Great Lakes now source of pollution elsewhere The Associated Press. Retrieved from www. centuryinter. net/tjs11/hist/lakes2. htm Walter Stewart (2003) Great Lakes Article: After years of good news, Lake Erie is once again under siege – this time from biological pollution. Canadian Geographic. Retrieved from www. greatlakesdirectory. org/on/101603_great_lakes. htm