The uncertainty created by this knowledge gap has complicated efforts to develop a regional strategy for reducing phosphorus inputs to Lake Erie, which is plagued each summer by cyanobacteria blooms and oxygen-starved waters caused by excess nutrients.

A new University of Michigan report fills many of those gaps and provides the most detailed characterization to date of the phosphorus sources—and their relative contributions—in the complex Detroit River watershed, which is heavily urbanized on the U.S. side of the border and mainly agricultural on the Canadian side.

The 46-page final report from the U-M Water Center also evaluates options for reducing phosphorus levels throughout the watershed. Among the report’s key findings:

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