August 10, 2023
Ohio’s Bad “Plan” to Tackle Lake Erie’s Toxic Algae
The health of Lake Erie and our safe drinking water depends on a better plan. The EPA needs to hear from you that the people of Ohio want better.
Right now, the U.S. EPA is reviewing a pollution diet plan that the state of Ohio had to be forced to develop to protect safe clean drinking water and a healthy Lake Erie. The state of Ohio is failing. We deserve better than having to live with the annual summer outbreak of green toxic algae scum that threatens our safe drinking water, the recreation economy, and the health of the lake.
Why is Western Lake Erie Covered in Algae?
A big reason toxic algae outbreaks happen is because industrial factory farms in the Maumee watershed cram thousands of hogs and cows into small areas. Those animals produce millions of gallons of liquid animal waste (think feces, urine, and other waste) which have to be disposed of. Where does it go? It’s sprayed onto fields as “fertilizer” way beyond the ability of the land to naturally absorb it. In many cases the fields have tile drains that act as conduits for moving the waste right into waterways. and eventually into Lake Erie fueling toxic algae outbreaks. This waste fuels toxic algae growth and has caused:
- Drinking water supplies to be shut down for days to all of Toledo August 2014 because it was unsafe to drink
- Increased costs for NW Ohio taxpayers due to rising costs for water treatment facilities to address manure in our water
- Swimming to be unsafe at times and impacts on tourism in Lake Erie
All this because corporate profits are more important than our safe water. This practice is risky and unsafe.
How Can It Be Fixed?
The state of Ohio has done very little to fix this problem. ELPC won in federal court and the state was ordered to create a cleanup plan for Lake Erie (it’s called a Total Maximum Daily Load or TMDL, a pollution diet to limit toxic stuff that can go into the water). They failed to develop a reasonable plan. The plan they created doesn’t target the right pollutants and won’t help us get the clean Lake Erie we deserve.
Want to know all the details on why it won’t work? Here is a detailed PowerPoint presentation breaking down each point.
The deficient TMDL is now with the U.S. EPA which has the authority to reject this plan and tell the state of Ohio to go back to the drawing board and make it better, or they can do the work for Ohio. The health of Lake Erie and our safe drinking water depends on a better plan. The EPA needs to hear from you that the people of Ohio want better. Lake Erie deserves our protection.