New maps indicate farms responsbile for Lake algal blooms

Published: Dec. 18, 2017 at 3:12 PM EST
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This summer was the third largest algal bloom outbreak in the history of Lake Erie.

It was so bad, algae backed up into the Maumee River in downtown Toledo.

The city and Lucas County are spending hundreds of millions of dollars fixing sewer and storm water runoff that dumps into the lake.

But now there's hard evidence *farms* need to do more.

Monday, maps of the lower Maumee watershed pinpointed where nutrient runoff is concentrated--it's primarily in farms south and west of Toledo.

Those areas indicate higher amounts of polluting phosphorous coming from those farmland areas.

Lucas COunty commissioner Pete Gerken implores farmers, "Don't defend the status quo that is poisoning our lake."

So the call is for farmers to dramatically cutback on fertilizer.

And the data-based maps could prove farmers they need to do more.

Commissioner Tina Skeldon-Wozniak says, "We have to begin to make progress and we believe this tool shows the areas where that can get done."

"it's too much. it's too much."

Frank Szollosi with the National Wildlife Federation says, farmers can make a difference by using less fertilizer and employing no-till farming techniques. He say,s those yellow, orange and red high-runoff areas can be changed to low runoff green area.

Szollosi says, "The cities face regulation on human waste. There needs to be regulation for animal waste."

Right now, there is no mandate to cut nutrient use. The State of Ohio only has a *voluntary* policy. But armed with data showing the true origin and amounts of phosphorous runoff, a mandatory policy could be imposed.