EPA Launches Research Vessel to Monitor Lake Ontario
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has kicked off an extensive binational initiative to gather critical information about the chemical and biological conditions of Lake Ontario in an effort to better protect and restore the lake and its watershed.
The Cooperative Science Monitoring Initiative involves U.S. and Canadian federal agencies that are partnering with New York State and the Province of Ontario, as well as academic, environmental and ecological organizations working under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement aimed at improving the waters of the Great Lakes and issuing a Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) for each Great Lake on a five-year cycle.
This year the EPA launched R/V Lake Guardian, owned by the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), for Lake Ontario’s fourth cycle of intensive monitoring to identify environmental threats, set priorities for research and monitoring, and outline further action by governments and the public for its 2018-2022 LAMP.
The priority of this year’s monitoring is to improve the understanding of nutrients entering the Lake Ontario ecosystem and their impacts on water quality and the aquatic food web.
Using various research vessels, the agencies will be evaluating nutrients, plankton, prey fish and predator fish. Smaller research boats will focus on near-shore activities such as evaluating nutrients and mussels, as well as performing algae research and diver surveys. The agencies will be using sophisticated equipment such as underwater cameras, satellite imagery, robotic gliders and underwater unmanned vehicles to better characterize and document the lake’s ecosystem.
Once the year-long monitoring program on Lake Ontario is completed, a summary report of their findings will be available for public review.
“We are fully dedicated to ensuring the health of Lake Ontario and all of the Great Lakes so we can better protect, maintain and enhance environmentally sustainable economic opportunities,” said Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “This cooperative partnership at all levels of government will benefit the health of the lake and the local communities and economies that rely on it.”