To stop algae, we need limits on farms

The recent algal bloom in Lake Erie which resulted in Toledo’s drinking-water ban demonstrated the need in Ohio to address the underlying cause: excess nutrients (primarily phosphorus) in our waterways.

Ohio’s public wastewater utilities are doing their part. Our mission is to… protect the water resources of our communities and, accordingly, we have made substantial improvements to address wet-weather overflows which can contribute to the nutrient problem.

Utilities collectively are spending billions on these programs to improve water quality and achieve nutrient reductions. However, we cannot protect our state’s watersheds alone. To prevent future algal blooms and other water-quality threats, Ohio must control unregulated sources of nutrient pollution, such as fertilizer and manure run-off from farming.

Governmental studies have shown clearly that most of the nutrients affecting Ohio waterways are generated by non-regulated runoff from agricultural operations. In contrast, Ohio’s wastewater systems and other industry sources are responsible for only about 10 percent of the phosphorus.

As a result, our efforts alone will not resolve the problem. Instead, to be effective, Ohio must develop a nutrient-reduction program that also includes requirements for reducing farming nutrients. Ohio needs a reduction program that will produce actual benefits for the costs involved, rather than simply increasing requirements on regulated utilities and having little impact on water quality.

Although Ohio’s General Assembly recently passed a bill to create an agricultural-fertilizer certification program, more work is needed. The new law does not require nutrient controls, and the training and education requirements it contains are important but will not assure the elimination of future algal blooms.

As public utilities, we are committed to doing our part, but our efforts alone will not be enough. Everyone must come together to protect Ohio’s waterways and the residents who depend on these resources.


View original article at: To stop algae, we need limits on farms


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