Ohio lawmakers need to stop treading water and address toxic algal blooms: editorial

Where are the hearings? Where is the legislation? Where is the urgency?

Four weeks ago, a harmful algal bloom poisoned the drinking water of more than 400,000 residents in the western basin of Lake Erie…

Last week, Microcystis aeruginosabiomasses resurfaced in the upper reservoir of a three-reservoir system that supplies drinking water to Norwalk, the seat of Huron County, south of Sandusky. The toxic green slime puddle – detected Aug. 18 – forced the city to cut off the flow of water from the upper reservoir to protect the city’s main water source.

“The city’s drinking water is produced from water in the lower reservoir,” Josh Snyder, the city’s public works director, told the Norwalk Reflector. “The drinking water is unaffected by the bloom in (the) upper reservoir.”

However, boaters and swimmers were banned and residents warned not to let pets drink from the upper reservoir.

The Sandusky Register reported that water samples from the site contained 22 parts per billion of microcystin, a liver toxin. The World Health Organization has set safety standards at 1 part per billion for drinking water and 20 parts per billion for physical contact.

The reservoirs are affected by agricultural and storm runoff, according to The Toledo Blade – again confirming the link researchers have documented between harmful algal blooms and the phosphorus and nutrients in manure and chemical fertilizers that wash off farmland and from old sewer systems that overflow during storms.

We know how to fix this burgeoning environmental disaster: A 2013 state task force called for a 40 percent reduction in all forms of phosphorus runoff.

A coalition of environmental groups has offered some common-sense strategies to achieve reductions, including legislation to prohibit spreading manure on frozen or snow-covered fields, and tighter annual restrictions on manure use by factory farms.

After the Toledo-area water crisis, state Rep. Dave Hall, a Millersburg Republican who chairs the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, promised to hold hearings on strategies to stop the blooms.

No dates have been scheduled, Hall said for this editorial.

As the peak season for blooms approach, that is an unacceptable answer.

Meet. Legislate. Save our drinking water.

View original article at: Ohio lawmakers need to stop treading water and address toxic algal blooms: editorial

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