Joosse, P. J. and Baker, D. B. 2011. Context for re-evaluating agricultural source phosphorus loadings to the Great Lakes. Can. J. Soil Sci. 91: 317-327. Over the past decade, scientists have been discussing the re-emergence of harmful algal blooms and excessive growth of Cladophora in some areas of the Great Lakes. An observation that has emerged from these discussions is that management of non-point or diffuse sources of phosphorus will be more important in the future in order to address symptoms of eutrophication in the nearshore. This paper provides context for this renewed focus on managing non-point source tributary loads and is based primarily on materials and discussions from the Great Lakes P Forum. There are changes that have occurred in the lakes and tributaries in the past 15 yr that indicate a greater need to focus on non-point sources, whether urban or rural. Changes have also occurred in land management to reduce non-point P losses from agriculture. While these changes have reduced sediment and particulate P loading in some Ohio tributaries, the more bioavailable, dissolved P forms have increased. As there is incomplete knowledge about the mechanisms that are influencing algal growth, it could be a challenge to demonstrate, in the near term, improvements in water quality with further P reductions from agriculture alone. Regardless, there appears to be a desire for improved accountability and transparency for agricultural non-point source P management.
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Vol. 91 • No. 3