Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

New, Stricter Regulations Coming for Ohio Farmers as Kasich Declares Lake Erie Officially Impaired

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 3:24 PM

click to enlarge Maumee Bay, 2014 - PHOTO BY ERIC SANDY
  • Photo by Eric Sandy
  • Maumee Bay, 2014

As reported last summer, the condition of Lake Erie is turning dire. The 2014 toxic algal bloom forced Toledo to shut off its water supply to over 500,000 people, and Michigan's environmental agency declared its portion of the Erie shoreline "impaired." Four years later, the creeks and rivers leading into western Lake Erie are still so inundated by algae-forming phosphorus that the Kasich administration finally had to relent and declare Lake Erie imparied as well, which will mean new and strict regulations on farmers.

Ohio previously stood on a longstanding position emphasizing voluntary incentives for agricultural workers, but it appears the time has come where these voluntary measures are to be made mandatory. The incentives were meant to encourage farmers to take better care of their agricultural runoff that directly correlates to the current toxic algae overtaking Lake Erie.

According to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Craig Butler, "We don't see the trend line moving big enough or fast enough. It's time for us to consider the next step." Ohio had set a goal with Michigan and Ontario to reduce phosphorus levels 40 percent over 2008 levels by 2025, but voluntary farming incentives weren't cutting it.



A yet-to-be introduced bill is imminent, including the expansion of the state's definition of agricultural pollution to also include farm runoff. As it stands, the voluntary incentives remain voluntary as farm runoff is not legally classified as pollution. This change would allow the state agriculture department to monitor the watersheds more closely, and allow the Ohio EPA to establish strict requirements for management plans.

Last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge James G. Carr directed the U.S. EPA to make their position on Lake Erie's water crisis clear within the next 30 days.

"Much sooner, rather than later, the right of all persons dependent upon a clean, toxic-algae-free Lake Erie for access to safe drinking water could be accomplished and guaranteed," the judge said.

Environmental Law and Policy Center Executive Director Howard Lerner stated in a press release: "We’re pleased that the federal district court directed U.S. EPA to comply with the Clean Water Act and make a clear determination within 30 days that Lake Erie’s open waters are impaired by pollution.”

The Ohio EPA has had opportunities to take action to protect Lake Erie from these algae blooms, but has continued to deflect and procrastinate.

Tags: , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation