Ohio Environmental Council, December 20, 2016
COLUMBUS, OH – Today Michigan took a common sense step towards protecting Lake Erie – announcing it will designate its portion of western Lake Erie as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act. With this action, Michigan is doing its part to ensure the lake’s water is safe for people to drink, swim and fish. Unfortunately, Ohio refuses to take similar action. In response to Michigan’s announcement, the OEC Director of Clean Water, Adam Rissien issued the following statement.
“Ohio should step up and do the right thing to address toxic algae. Michigan’s action show’s that Ohio not only has an opportunity, but an obligation to do more to protect our Great Lake. Declaring all of Lake Erie impaired will bring additional resources and tools to stop toxic algae from continuing to threaten people’s drinking water. We simply cannot afford to leave any tools on the table.”
In October, the Ohio EPA sent its final list of impaired waters to the U.S. EPA in Chicago for approval. The federal agency must reject or accept Ohio’s list within 30 days, and a decision is currently pending. Instead of looking at the entire western basin within Ohio’s border, Ohio EPA only evaluated and requested an impairment designation for Lake Erie’s shorelines and the drinking water intake area for Toledo and Oregon. This is insufficient and unacceptable.
Michigan recognized it was not only right, but required under the Clean Water Act, to study all of Lake Erie within its jurisdiction, and make a determination if the water was not meeting standards thereby triggering an “impairment” designation. Now it’s Ohio’s turn to step up and do the right thing.