Monitoring Lake Ontario’s Health

By on July 26, 2018
lake-guardian

EPA launches research vessel Lake Guardian to monitor Lake Ontario’s health as Binational Science Initiative gets underway. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun an extensive binational Cooperative Science Monitoring Initiative to focus on the protection and restoration of Lake Ontario and its watershed. U.S. and Canadian federal agencies are partnering with New York State and the Province of Ontario, as well as academic, environmental, and ecological organizations, to gather critical information about the chemical and biological conditions of Lake Ontario.

“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.”

The priority of this year’s monitoring of Lake Ontario, which is the lake’s fourth cycle of intensive monitoring, is to improve the understanding of nutrients entering the Lake Ontario ecosystem and their impacts on water quality and the aquatic food web.

The Research Vessel Lake Guardian is the largest research vessel in the EPA fleet and the largest research vessel operating on the Great Lakes. The R/V Lake Guardian is 180 feet in length. It has a berthing capacity of 41 people, including 14 crew members and 27 visiting scientists.

Under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the United States and Canada are committed to 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 is Lake Ontario’s fourth year monitoring and will identify environmental threats, set priorities for research and monitoring, and outline further action by governments and the public for its 2018-2022 LAMP.Once the year-long monitoring program on Lake Ontario is completed, a summary report of their findings will be available for public review.

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.

The R/V Lake Guardian, which is owned by the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), assists GLNPO in monitoring and reporting on the status and trends of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Annual surveys that sample water and biological life at designated locations in all five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario) are conducted by the R/V Lake Guardian.

For more information about the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement visit: https://www.epa.gov/glwqa

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://facebook.com/eparegion2

Provided information

Photos by Karen Fien

lake-guardian

The Research Vessel Lake Guardian is the largest research vessel in the EPA fleet and the largest research vessel operating on the Great Lakes. The Lake Guardian sails across all five Great Lakes to support a wide range of research. This floating laboratory is used to collect samples and from these samples, scientists gather information about the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the Great Lakes. Their work has created baseline and long-term datasets as well as highlighted emerging issues. Managers and policymakers use this information to make sound decisions that help protect the Great Lakes. The Water Quality Survey is one of EPA’s cornerstone and longest-running monitoring programs. The survey takes place on all five Great Lakes twice a year, in the spring, when the waters are cold and well mixed, and in the summer, when the waters are warm, layered and more biologically active. The program monitors long-term trends and changes in offshore water quality (such as nutrient levels), and identifies existing issues such as hypoxia, when low oxygen levels can affect the survival of aquatic life and the quality of drinking water.

The Rosette is a workhorse for programs like the Water Quality Survey. This scientific equipment collects water samples at selected depths using twelve bottles. Attached directly below the Rosette is the Sea-Bird instrument with sensors that instantly measure temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen and more. The Rosette and Sea-Bird are part of a larger collection of scientific equipment on board the Lake Guardian that is used to collect samples.

The Rosette is a workhorse for programs like the Water Quality Survey. This scientific equipment collects water samples at selected depths using twelve bottles. Attached directly below the Rosette is the Sea-Bird instrument with sensors that instantly measure temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen and more. The Rosette and Sea-Bird are part of a larger collection of scientific equipment on board the Lake Guardian that is used to collect samples.

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Key officials onboard the Lake Guardian during the media trip Monday, June 18 from the Port of Rochester, hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). L-r: Mike Basile, Public Affairs Officer, US EPA Region 2, Aisha Sexton-Sims, Ph.D. Environmental Engineer and Lake Ontario LAMP Manager, US EPA Region 2, Mary Gladkowski, Senior Service Employee supporting US EPA Region 2, Pat Evangelista, Director of Office of Strategic Programs, US EPA Region 2, Javier Laureano, Ph.D. Clean Water Division Director, US EPA Region 2, Warren Currie, Ph.D. Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and Fred Luckey, Chief Environmental Scientist, US EPA Region 2.

Key officials onboard the Lake Guardian during the media trip Monday, June 18 from the Port of Rochester, hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). L-r: Mike Basile, Public Affairs Officer, US EPA Region 2, Aisha Sexton-Sims, Ph.D. Environmental Engineer and Lake Ontario LAMP Manager, US EPA Region 2, Mary Gladkowski, Senior Service Employee supporting US EPA Region 2, Pat Evangelista, Director of Office of Strategic Programs, US EPA Region 2, Javier Laureano, Ph.D. Clean Water Division Director, US EPA Region 2, Warren Currie, Ph.D. Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada and Fred Luckey, Chief Environmental Scientist, US EPA Region 2.