The U.S. and Canadian governments have agreed to seek steep cuts in phosphorus runoff into sections of Lake Erie plagued by harmful algae blooms that foul drinking water and kill fish.

The deal Monday between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Canada's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change calls for a 40 percent reduction of phosphorus into the lake's central and western basin — a target scientists set.

They say it's essential for keeping algae growth levels low enough that they don't produce toxins that pose health threats to people and aquatic ecosystems.

The states of Ohio and Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario pledged in 2015 to seek a 40 percent drop in algae runoff within a decade.

Lake Erie has had record-setting algae blooms in recent years.