Clean water was the focus of mayors at the Great Lakes Water Conference.Submitted photo

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and mayors from municipalities around the Great Lakes on Sept. 23 at a Great Lakes Water Quality Summit hosted by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago. The event was held at the Shedd Aquarium.

The mayors were joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, who explained the government’s response to the threat of microcystin toxins in Lake Erie.

The mayors discussed the importance of working together in partnership with the private and not-for-profit sectors to protect the drinking water supply in the Great Lakes.

The mayors called for action:
• by USEPA to establish a common limit and an emergency response protocol for micro-cystin in drinking water for the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence region;
• by Great Lakes states to establish a phos-phorus open lake water quality standard;
• by agriculture to further reduce the runoff from farms into Lake Erie, including better nutrient management and application of the 4 Nutrient Stewardship Program, which incorporates right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place; and
• by municipalities to further reduce phosphorus loadings through more green infrastructure, better treatment plant operations and pollution prevention measures.

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 114 mayors and other local officials that works actively with federal, state, tribal, First Nation and provincial governments and other stakeholders to advance the protection, restoration and promotion of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River basin.