Ohio EPA takes next steps to protect Lake Erie water quality; advocates have concerns

State releases total maximum daily load for Lake Erie
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 3:55 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A big step for Lake Erie or more of the same green algal bloom?

Friday the Ohio EPA put in some new voluntary standards on what can and cannot go into the lake but not everyone is happy with the lack of enforcement.

Total maximum daily load is the new guidelines from the Ohio EPA. They’re some limits on what nutrients can eventually end up in the lake but it’s not going to be strictly enforced.

The goal for everyone is to eliminate the Lake Erie algal bloom. Maybe this total maximum daily load will help. Amounts permitted to be put into the lake. For example: 107 metric tons of phosphorus in the spring season from permitted facilities in the Maumee River watershed.

“This is a big step in terms of transparency and facilitating new discussions around what more can be done in terms of cleaning up the lake,” said Anne Vogel, the director of the Ohio EPA.

“Permitted facilities will have limits, like water treatment plants. But non-point sources like farm fields and other run off. Their limits will simply be a goal.

“It’s important to recognize that a TMDL is not regulation. We’ve been very clear about that over 15 months meeting with all of our stakeholders,” said Vogel, “The practices that we would continue and expect to see more of under a TMDL are also voluntary. There’s no question about it.”

“Somehow or another if we keep doing more of what we’ve done that doesn’t work and just do more of it and do it harder somehow that’s gonna make a difference,” said Mike Ferner, Lake Erie advocate

Ferner says without enforcement, this TMDL still doesn’t hold polluters accountable. Mega farms have been a big target for this group. Manure leaves here and ends up on farm fields but if too much is applied or it runs off a frozen field, this TMDL does not hold that farm responsible for the run-off.

“What it’s going to do is what it’s intended to do. To make people think something is being done and that’s not the case,” said Ferner.

The state says it will report out its new finding, research and marks every two years. A big step next comes from the US EPA. It will look at the documents and see if approves of it. That’s when we know if it will take effect.