Press Release

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Statement of Jack Shaner, OEC Deputy Director, on the Signing of the “Clean Lake Erie Act” – Ohio Senate Bill 1

Ohio Environmental Council, April 2, 2015

Today is an important day for Lake Erie and the millions of people who rely upon it for drinking water, jobs, and recreation.

For today marks more solid progress in the continuing effort to safeguard our Great Lake from the annual menace of toxic algae.

For the first time in Ohio — and to the best of our knowledge, for the first time in any Great Lake state:

  • By law, the application of livestock manure and commercial fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered, or saturated ground in Ohio’s western region of Lake Erie will be restricted and only allowed under certain, specific conditions.
  • By law, every person who applies livestock manure from a CAFO must be trained and certified in proper application practices.
  • By law, the open-lake disposal of nutrient-rich sediments dredged from the harbors and river mouths of Ohio’s Lake Erie ports will be phased out by 2020.
  • By law, municipal wastewater treatment plant operators will monitor for phosphorus loading
  • A Coordinator of Harmful Algae Management and Response will be established and charged with developing protocols for monitoring, treating and testing for Lake Erie algae.
  • The Ohio Healthy Lake Erie Fund will be revised to support tributary monitoring, soil testing, edge of field testing, animal waste abatement and conservation practices to reduce nutrient loading in the tributaries of the Western Lake Erie Basin.

This is significant action. In Ohio, the bar has been raised on combating toxic algae. Bad practices are now illegal. Unscrupulous operators are on notice. And the public will be watching.

Yes, much more work remains to further reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loading to Lake Erie — from agricultural operations and municipal wastewater treatment systems, to construction sites and household sewage septic systems — and even our own yards and sidewalks.

We are all part of the problem. And we all must be part of the solution.

But the bottom line for today is this: Thanks to the leadership of Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly, Lake Erie is better protected from toxic algae.

I want to say a special thank you to Governor Kasich and the General Assembly members here today. This law was not a foregone conclusion. There was a vigorous debate over whether there should even be a penalty for inappropriate applications of livestock manure and fertilizer. But, they got the job done.

And knowing Governor Kasich, this is hardly Ohio’s final effort to stop nutrient pollution. He’s got this challenge in his sights. And he’s not going to let go until the problem is solved.

Thank you Governor Kasich and Members of the General Assembly for your continuing leadership. We look forward to further effort to protect our Great Lake for the benefit of all of the people and communities and wildlife that benefit from it.