Pollution Threat to Lake Erie?

September 27, 2013 Updated May 5, 2010 at 7:06 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

...
September 27, 2013 Updated May 5, 2010 at 7:06 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- The Great Lakes make up one of the largest fresh water sources in the world, so any threat is cause for great alarm. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is more fuel for those opposed to any drilling for oil in Lake Erie, it remains free of any oil platforms. Drilling isn't allowed on the United States side of Lake Erie, but on the Canadian side it is and there are hundreds of natural gas wells off shore on the Ontario side. And some oil wells are located not too far inland. Environmentalists warn that drilling is never risk free.

"Just a small amount of oil can contaminate a lot of water," Jill Jedlicka, with the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, said.

Employees with Riverkeeper work to preserve local waterways and some of those people are down in the gulf right now helping with the situation there. "An international organization... three keeper organizations down in the gulf coast that are in the front lines of this right now," Jedlicka said.

At local and state levels here in the Western New York area, there is ongoing training just in case of a disaster that might pollute Lake Erie. "What you see going on in the gulf in terms of the resources both personnel and equipment, those same types of resources are available and would be brought to bare in a major event up here," Dan King, DEC Regional Emergency Response coordinator, said.

Lake Erie has had its battle with pollution over the decades and was even considered a dying lake in the 1960s, but since then its ecosystem has greatly improved and that's how hydrologists and many others want to keep it.