A state of emergency has been declared in Lucas and Wood Counties after samples of water from an East Toledo facility containing microcystin – a harmful liver toxin released by the algal blooms plaguing the Western Lake Erie Basin - were found to exceed the level allowable for human consumption. The algal blooms are thought to be a result of high levels of phosphorus found in run-off from cities and farms nears the Maumee River watershed.
State Representative Mike Sheehy (D-Oregon), who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and an outspoken critic of Senate Bill 150, has been calling for tougher regulations on phosphorus polluters since he took office more than a year ago.
“I have been asking my colleagues to support my efforts to reduce run-off and prevent these severe algal blooms,” said Rep. Sheehy. He went on to say, “I even drafted an amendment to Senate Bill 150 which would ban spreading manure on frozen ground, limiting the manure run-off into the Maumee River, but it never made it to the floor of the House. I hope my colleagues and the administration will work with me to seriously re-examine the issue of phosphorus loading in Lake Erie.”
Senate Bill 150, signed into law early this summer, seeks to limit the amount of phosphorus from farm run-off by creating a certification program for all who apply fertilizer to their fields.
During committee hearings, Rep. Sheehy and other interested parties questioned if the bill went far enough to curb run off and prevent severe algal blooms such as the one seen this summer.