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Lake Ontario most stressed of all Great Lakes

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Lake Ontario most stressed of all Great Lakes
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Work, school, and relationships are common stressors for people. But nature can also find itself under strain. A recent study found Lake Ontario to be the most stressed of the Great Lakes. Sarah Blazonis reports.

CENTRAL NEW YORK -- It may be the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area, but when it comes to stress, Lake Ontario has its fellow lakes beat.

"That's not as surprising as many would think. You have to remember, Lake Ontario is, depending on your perspective, the beginning and the end of the system," said Dave White, coastal recreation and tourism specialist with the New York Sea Grant.

The Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project conducted a three-year study of the lakes. It was based on 34 stressors in categories like climate change and coastal development. White says it's a combination of issues that put Ontario over the top, but one of the main problems it's dealing with is invasive species.

"If you think historically about Lake Ontario and the development of the Erie Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway, many invasive species have come through those two vectors into either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario," said White.

But White says the condition of Lake Ontario shouldn't stress out the public. That's because now that stressors have been identified, steps can be taken to fix the problem. One of those solutions is already underway at Onondaga Lake.

Water from that lake eventually flows to Lake Ontario, so clean-up efforts here will help its stabilization. White says measures like the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement also laid a foundation for success.

"If you think back to the 60's and 70's when Lake Erie was considered extremely polluted, we had rivers that were catching fire the Lakes have improved dramatically...so the lakes are in much better shape," said White.

And experts have a better idea of what still needs to be done to help them de-stress.

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