Today State Reps. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) introduced a resolution urging the Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to add Lake Erie’s Western Basin to the list of impaired waters. The move follows a State of the State address that left the two Toledo-area representatives disappointed with the lack of urgency surrounding the continued water quality crisis in Northwest Ohio.
“To seriously address harmful algal blooms in our state requires a firm commitment to reform and to exploring all avenues for action,” said Rep. Fedor. “I was hopeful that Ohio and federal governments would treat the ongoing crisis with more resolve and that last week’s State of the State address would outline some real policy initiatives. It is past time to put Lake Erie and the lives we have built here first.”
This resolution recognizes that Lake Erie’s Western Basin is facing a water quality crisis, plagued by pollution, algal blooms, and fish kills. Both Rep. Fedor and Rep. Sheehy were serving Toledo in the Ohio House of Representatives in 2014 when an algal bloom left 500,000 Toledoans without safe drinking water. Lake Erie’s Western Basin still requires massive doses of chlorine to be considered safefor consumption, continually impacting much of the region.
“The algae problem is far too critical to continue the weak actions taken by the current state and federal administrations,” said Rep. Sheehy. “If swift and decisive action is not taken now, Ohioans along the coast will continue to lose income, wildlife, and many more resources from Lake Erie.”
Unlike Ohio, Michigan did include the open waters in its jurisdiction on its list of impaired waters that it submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, which approved that list. The United States EPA already has declared Michigan’sportion of Lake Erie impaired and Rep. Fedor and Rep. Sheehy believe that designation should be given to the portions of Lake Erie in Ohio’s jurisdiction as well. This resolution calls for the U.S. EPA to make that designation now, in accordance with the U.S. Clean Water Act.
Mike Ferner, coordinator of Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, said, “Representatives Fedor and Sheehy’s resolution is the right thing at the right time. This spring and early summer Lake Erie will experience another flood of animal waste and other sources of excess nutrients, potentially turning it into a toxic soup in August. An impaired designation will require an inventory of all pollution sources and a timetable to hold polluters accountable. The sooner the better.”