County outlines ideas for cleaning Lake ErieWritten by Tom Konecny | | email@example.com
Situated next to the National Museum of the Great Lakes and with the Maumee River as a backdrop, Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada released information April 15 on potential solutions for solving Lake Erie’s algal bloom problems.
The report was co-authored by Kenneth Kilbert, director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes, a multidisciplinary research center within the University of Toledo’s College of Law, and Jack Tuholske, director of the Vermont Law School Water & Justice Program.
“Moving Forward: Legal Solutions to Lake Erie’s Harmful Algal Blooms” was commissioned by the Lucas County Commissioners after Contrada spoke with U.S. Rep Marcy Kaptur on Aug. 17, two weeks after the City of Toledo issued a do-not-drink water advisory that left 400,000 Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan residents without drinking water.
“We cleaned up Lake Erie once before, we can do it again,” Contrada said, referring to the 1972 Clean Water Act, a federal law that governed water pollution.
The news conference was followed by a regional water conversation inside the museum attended by fellow commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and representatives from the offices of Kaptur, Rep. Bob Latta and Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.
“We’re facing the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime: restoring and renewing Lake Erie,” Contrada said, saying the report offers “real solutions” to combating algal blooms.
During the presentation, Contrada said Lake Erie was considered dead in the 1960s, and substantial public outcry ensued. She referenced the environmental message of “The Lorax,” a Dr. Seuss book that originally decried Lake Erie’s condition, but whose author removed that quote several years later after Lake Erie was cleaned and improved.
Contrada said the recently signed Ohio Senate Bill 1 — which attempts to reduce the phosphorus runoff from farmland that is a key contributor to toxic blooms in Lake Erie — is an “excellent start.”
“I was here during the water crisis, and if there was a silver lining, it was a reminder of how precious [Lake Erie] is,” Kilbert said. “Certainly law has been part of the solution in the past … and law can be part of the solution going forward as well.”
Tuholske mentioned the success of multiple states working together to clean Chesapeake Bay in the eastern U.S., which covers parts of six states, plus the District of Columbia. He cited it as an example of multiple governmental groups working together, exactly what he believes will be needed in Lake Erie.
“We have been down this road before,” Tuholske said. “Water pollution problems can be solved.”
Lake Erie provides drinking water to over 11 million people, and supports a multistate and international economy, generating $12 billion a year and over 100,000 jobs.
The entire report will soon be accessible online at the Lucas County website: co.lucas.oh.us.
Tags: algae, algal bloom, Bob Latta, Carol Contrada, Jack Tuholske, Kenneth Kilbert, Lake Erie, Legal Institute of the Great Lakes, Marcy Kaptur, Pete Gerken, Rob Portman, Sherrod Brown, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Vermont Law School Water & Justice Program