Add to the tons of fertilizer dumped into the west end of Lake Erie, which has caused a dead zone for fish and other aquatic life, and the unmeasurable loads of garbage and chemicals dumped into the Great Lakes, approximately 10,000 metric tons of plastic each year.
According to Science Daily, a study done at the University of Rochester Institute of Technology shows:
Researchers estimate 10,000 metric tons of plastic enter Great Lakes every year
Study inventories movement of plastic and microplastic debris throughout lake system
In more detail:
A new study that inventories and tracks high concentrations of plastic in the Great Lakes could help inform cleanup efforts and target pollution prevention. Researchers found that nearly 10,000 metric tons — or 22 million pounds — of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year from the United States and Canada.
The news represents a setback to efforts to clean the lakes, which have received support from recent legislation. The News-Herald reports:
A wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program will continue an additional five years under newly enacted legislation that funds water projects around the nation.
Congress gave the bill final approval over the weekend. It authorizes spending $300 million on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through 2021, although separate yearly votes will be needed to secure the money.
The program already has pumped $2.2 billion into more than 3,000 projects. They have cleaned up toxic pollution in harbors and river mouths, battled Asian carp and other invasive species, restored wildlife habitat and supported efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms.
The bill also creates a position for a coordinator to work with federal, state and local agencies on the algal bloom problem and provides funding to improve navigation in the Great Lakes.
But are the funds enough to clear up all that plastic?