Lake Erie advocates discuss phosphorus loads in tributaries

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 10:58 AM EST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - The public is now getting its chance to weigh in on one part of the plan to eliminate the algae bloom in Lake Erie.

It’s called the Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. That’s the amount of phosphorus that’s allowed in the rivers and streams leading to Lake Erie. But, some don’t think this plan goes far enough.

With signs outside and words inside, Lake Erie advocates got their chance to speak to the Ohio EPA on the proposed TMDL Thursday. That’s how much phosphorus will be acceptable to eventually make its way to Lake Erie. Phosphorus fuels the algae bloom.

Much of the target from the crowd are the huge factory farms that sit along the Maumee River watershed. Some manure from the farms, even if spread on farm fields, ends up in the river.

This group believes government isn’t doing enough to regulate that, or even acknowledge them.

“There is a question of whether the agencies given public trust will ever wholly reverse algae bloom generating nutrients allowed by law and timid regulations,” said Robert Masters who testified to the EPA.

“Pretended not to see the elephant in the room. That elephant was and continues to be the millions of animals in what can more accurately be called confined barbaric feeding facilities,” said Mike Ferner who testified to the EPA.

This order also would not specifically trace everywhere the phosphorus is coming from. Laws already monitor things like sewage treatment plants but this won’t look at which specific farm is putting too much into the water.

“If we don’t know where exactly the source of the phosphorus is, how can we fix it,” said Marjorie Mulcahy who testified to the EPA.

“The current draft TMDL does not create the baseline necessity of an accurate inventory of each separate source of pollution that is causing the degradation of Lake Erie,” said Fritz Byers, attorney for the Lucas County Commissioners.

Public comment on this draft will be taken by the Ohio EPA until March 8th.

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