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Toledo-area lawmakers outline priorities ahead of tonight's State of the State speech

Include Lake Erie water quality as a top concern facing Ohio
March 6, 2018
Michael Sheehy News

State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) today outlined their top priorities ahead of the annual State of the State address. In addition to improving education, tackling the state’s opioid epidemic and increasing opportunity for working people to get ahead, the Toledo-area lawmakers want to see the governor discuss his plans to improve water quality and combat harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie at tonight’s event.

“For years, the state and federal government have ignored threats to Lake Erie and the surrounding areas,” said Rep. Fedor. “It is past time to put Lake Erie—the people who build their lives there, the communities that depend on it and the lake itself—first. I sincerely hope that the governor addresses the safety of our homes and our Great Lake tonight.”

A 2014 bloom on Lake Erie left some 500,000 Toledoans without safe drinking water. As a result, water in the western basin still requires massive doses of chlorine to be considered safefor consumption.

“The governor has had years to come up with a serious solution to this problem,” said Rep. Sheehy. “This is his last chance to demonstrate real initiative on an issue that threatens the economic and environmental health of Northwest Ohio.”

If no comprehensive plan is laid out by the governor tonight, Fedor and Sheehy announced they will introduce legislation calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include Lake Erie on its list of impaired waters under the Clean Water Act.

Fedor and Sheehy’s concern comes as a U.S. District Court today hears arguments in Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie’s federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. EPA to include Lake Erie’s western basin on its list of impaired waters. Unlike Ohio, Michigan did include its share of Lake Erie on the list of impaired waters it submitted to the U.S. EPA, who approved the designation.

“This is the time for action,” said Mike Ferner, coordinator of Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie. “Designating the western basin as impaired will require an inventory of all pollution sources and a timetable to hold polluters accountable and keep our water supply safe. The sooner the better.”