Peters Cosponsors Legislation to Combat Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters today announced he cosponsored legislation to reauthorize the Integrated Oceans Observing System (IOOS), a national and regional network of scientists and researchers that tracks critical information about the health of the Great Lakes and the nation’s coasts and oceans. The IOOS, along with its regional partner the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS), uses this data to combat environmental threats like harmful algal blooms, promote health and safety of the Great Lakes, and support maritime commerce and transportation.

“The Great Lakes are critical to the economic and environmental wellbeing of Michigan and our entire region,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. “The Integrated Oceans Observing System and the Great Lakes Observing System play a critical role in providing data that helps to keep the Great Lakes healthy for economic activity, as well as monitoring and protecting against harmful algal blooms that can damage ecosystems and endanger local drinking water supplies.”

IOOS is a network of federal and regional entities that work together to monitor, collect and utilize data related to the health of the Great Lakes and oceans. This data is used for a range of activities, including supporting commercial activity, assisting with emergency response and search and rescue operations, and monitoring and preventing the spread of containments, like the toxins from harmful algal blooms, that can endanger drinking water supplies.

Harmful algal blooms regularly threaten Lake Erie’s ecosystem and local drinking water. Lake Erie is the water source for the South County Water District, which provides drinking water to southern Monroe County, Michigan. In August 2014, nearly 30,000 customers in Monroe County were affected by a water use ban due to contaminants from toxins produced by algae blooms in Lake Erie.

Earlier this year, Peters also cosponsored the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA). This legislation provides resources to research and combat harmful algal bloom events that cause significant economic and ecological harm in marine and freshwater bodies, including Lake Erie.