David Miller, Deputy Communications Director, December 1, 2017
Each summer, Lake Erie is at risk from toxic algae. Today, Maumee Bay Brewing Company, the Glass City Mashers homebrewing club and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) hosted an event at The Oliver House on the Maumee River to raise awareness and to urge stronger action to fix this annual threat to Lake Erie and the communities that depend on it.
In August 2014, a massive bloom of toxic algae in Lake Erie contaminated drinking water in the Toledo area, leaving almost a half a million people without clean drinking water for nearly three days. Working to prevent another event like this, the OEC and Toledo area brewers called on state lawmakers to take bold action to restore the health of the lake and ensure safe, clean drinking water for area families.
“Water is the single most important ingredient in beer,” said Craig Kerr Brewing Manager at Maumee Bay Brewing Company. “Water quality is important to any brewery and that’s why we’re releasing this green beer to get the word out about protecting the water quality of Lake Erie and the Maumee River.”
Maumee Bay Brewing Company is situated between the Maumee River and the mouth of Swan Creek in downtown Toledo. The City of Toledo has begun to see reinvestment into the downtown area over the past few years and the area’s connection to the waterfront is a major contributing factor.
“Clean water is essential to the best tasting pint, but it is also critical to public health and the local economy. Clean water ensures this economic success,” said Nick Mandros, Regional Director for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Few industries rely on clean water as much as craft brewers. Hops, grains and malt can be sourced elsewhere, but water is often local.”
Each year, millions of tons of phosphorus, that toxic algae causing pollution, travels down the Maumee River and into Lake Erie creating a toxic algal bloom. A majority of this phosphorus comes from increased amounts of nutrients due to industrialized farming techniques, and municipal stormwater runoff.
Toxic algae will continue to plague Lake Erie and threaten people’s drinking water until we get serious about addressing unchecked agricultural runoff pollution, by continuing voluntary approaches, common-sense uniform agricultural solutions to solve the problem, and provide funding for both. Unfortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection’s budget, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and programs to reduce phosphorus pollution from wastewater treatment plants, as well as Farm Bill conservation programs are in the federal administration’s crosshairs.
“No Toledoan should have to worry if the water they are giving their family is clean and safe, or if their children or loved ones are swimming in toxic waters,” said Mandros. “It’s time we let our Congressional representatives know that not only is our drinking water at risk, but our beer as well.”