Wuwert: Wake up and smell the water, Toledo!Written by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Dear Citizens of Northwest Ohio,
During the past few weeks, we have heard about algal blooms, phosphorus in the lake, licensing fertilizers and my personal favorite, “summits” conducted by politicians about what to do with Lake Erie.
It seems the only thing we have not discussed in detail is the performance of city leadership. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins stated at a recent news conference that he knew about the condition of the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant as a city councilman, but he did not have the power to do anything because he was not the mayor. After he became mayor, we learned that the Ohio EPA sent several letters asking the city to speed up plant repairs because it was “vulnerable to potential failures.”
The response from the city was so slow that the Ohio EPA was considering taking over the water treatment plant. When the water became undrinkable, Collins chose to not make a neighborly call to community leaders forewarning them of the situation. Let me recap that in case you did not catch what I said: Mayor Collins knew about the problem prior to taking office, did not take aggressive action to address it when he had the power to fix it, almost had the responsibility taken away from him by the state government and then neglected to tell other leaders when the problem was a danger to the public.
How is he still the mayor?
If this had happened in the private sector, his contract would have been terminated immediately. But the citizens seem to have accepted the line from city leaders that the algal bloom in the lake is the cause for the bad water. The lake sneaks out at night like a drunken sailor drinking “phosphorus martinis” and then it produces toxins. Bad lake!
However, before you consider sending the lake to rehab, the city of Oregon pulls its water out of the western area of the lake and did not have a problem. These cities must be doing something right. The City of Toledo water intake pipe is near the shoreline at the mouth of the Maumee River right where algae tend to collect. The lake must have put it there, right? Well, it must be those evil farmers and their fertilizer that have caused this problem. Before you ban all fertilizer, keep in mind that the phosphorus content (which is produced from fertilizer runoff) in the lake was higher in 2007 than in 2011, yet the algal bloom was higher in 2011. How about we take shifts for a 24/7 police patrol of the shores of Lake Erie and all rivers that flow into it to make sure that it does not take in any toxic chemicals?
Many still insist that we need more regulation. It would be much more cost-effective to build a state-of-the-art water treatment facility and move the intake pipe farther out in the lake. It is the one thing that the city can control.
But, for those of you who still strongly believe in the need to regulate more, let me offer a starting point — One Government Center, Suite 2200, Toledo, Ohio, 43604. How about we do a better job of regulating the politicians? Voters can hold elected leaders accountable and demand that they exit stage left when they have made repeated errors in judgment that have jeopardized the public health of the community.
I know, you still think it is the lake’s fault. Go clean it up — meanwhile the water treatment plant is at risk of another failure. Is the lake causing that too?
Wake up and smell the water,
Toledo — you are being hoodwinked.
Your friend, Jim Wuwert