U.S. EPA approves Ohio’s plan to reduce algae in Lake Erie

The plan addresses harmful algal blooms that can produce toxins which could harm animals in the water.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The United States Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to help combat the algae in Lake Erie. A plan was passed on Sept. 28 to reduce the amount of phosphorus that gets into the lake, which contributes to the algae blooms.

But one local group says that isn’t enough.

“The U.S. EPA did us a big favor by making it clear that this issue with Lake Erie is not really about toxic algae, it’s about who runs the government,” Mike Ferner, the coordinator of local group Lake Erie Advocates said.

On Sept. 28 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved Ohio’s plan to reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie. But not everyone agrees with it.

“It’s clear that public interest and the citizens have been cut out of this. We passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, 60% a few years ago, and it was thrown out by the federal court,” Ferner said.

According to the U.S. EPA’s news release, the plan addresses harmful algal blooms that can produce toxins that could harm animals in the water, make the water undrinkable and prevent recreational use.

The plan establishes a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for phosphorus for the Maumee River Watershed which will ultimately help restore water quality and keep it healthy.

Ferner says the group has been very involved with trying to advocate for clean water.

“Did we vote to have green water? I don’t think so. Did we vote to have 25 million animals pinned up in inhumane conditions? No. The public’s vote, the public’s voice, the public’s interest has not been included in any of these decisions,” Ferner said.

“This plan is the result of more than two years of hard work, community input, and cooperation among numerous partners in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The TMDL complements and builds on the work of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio program by identifying all potential sources of nutrients in the Maumee Watershed and setting specific reduction goals,” an Ohio EPA official said in an email.

“Factory farms are an industry that is being run by a small elite who has figured out how to get taxpayers to subsidize their operation so they can make a lot of money. Now that’s got nothing to do with whether Lake Erie is gonna make it or not, that’s got everything to do with who’s running the show,” Ferner said.

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