Lake Erie provides drinking water to over 11 million people and produces more consumable fish than all the other Great Lakes combined. In the past 20 years, a decline in water quality from nutrient pollution has led to efforts by organizations, businesses, and governments, aimed toward better maintenance of this critically important source of freshwater. These efforts, however, often lack targeted information, directed funding, and a unilateral approach in addressing issues across the Lake. In reality, the majority of policies, agreements, and literature, focus on Lake Erie’s Western Basin, leaving a large information gap in connectivity between how the environmental and economic issues of the Central and Eastern Basin areas impact Lake Erie’s capacity as a whole to provide ecosystem services.
We’re helping the Lake Erie Foundation identify and connect potential changes in land and resource management to the maintenance and improvement of key ecosystem service values for Lake Erie through a two-phase effort. Unlike previous ecosystem service valuation studies, our study will include all of Lake Erie–the Western, Central, and Eastern basins of the lake in the U.S. as well as a majority of the Northern Basin in Ontario.
In the first prong of this effort, with input from the National Wildlife Federation, Key-Log Economics conducted an extensive literature review to collect and evaluate the current depth and breadth of research on the economic value of ecosystem services related to water quality in Lake Erie. We reviewed systematic reviews of ecosystem service values in Lake Erie, spatial distribution analyses, and ecosystem-service-specific valuations.
Through our review, we found much of the research and funding tends to be directed to the Great Lakes region as a whole. For studies that focus on Lake Erie, the focus is directed toward environmental issues present in the Western Basin of the Lake. There are also many ecosystem services in Lake Erie that have not been thoroughly examined, leaving important facets of human well-being out of the accounting.
In the second prong of this effort, with input from Lucas County, City of Oregon, City of Toledo, and the Lake Erie Foundation, we aim to connect how benefits flow from natural systems to humans. Our phase two effort will be a basin-wide assessment covering more high-priority ecosystem services to help decision-makers and the public in the Lake Erie Basin see the value in connecting natural systems and human well-being.
We will be holding online webinars to gain input from stakeholders to refine and gain consensus around a targeted subset of key ecosystem services for detailed analysis and analyze existing relationships between stressors and the supply of those key services. In these webinars, we will be using “means-ends diagramming” techniques to link changes in land/resource management to outcomes. This process allows stakeholders to prioritize ecosystem services and their delivered benefits, which then becomes the basis for our analysis of potential changes in the delivery of these ecosystem services and their respective societal benefits.
Example means-end diagram
want to help?
If you live or work anywhere in the Lake Erie area, please take a few moments to complete this survey that will help us identify key or priority ecosystem services for further analysis.
We will be holding three webinars, one each to focus on the Western, Central, and Eastern basins of Lake. Because east-west differences are more important than north-south differences in the Lake, we will divide the Northern sub-basin among it’s western, central, and eastern portions. If you would like to participate in the webinar, please fill out the survey above and indicate "interested" on the last question.
If you have any general questions about the project, please leave a comment below or send it to Sonia Wang via email.