Ohio Resumes Fight Against Toxic Algae

Efforts to prevent future toxic algae blooms in Ohio waterways have stalled in the Ohio legislature. As the new year begins, new efforts are underway to reduce the threat to drinking water supplies.

The Ohio EPA says it will make $100-million dollars in interest free loans available to help cities and towns install new equipment to filter phosphorous from entering streams and rivers. Excess phosphorous is a primary source of harmful algae. Ohio State University researcher Jeff Reutter says its uncertain though how much the loan program will help.

“That’s a hard call. It depends on where the money goes and how it’s spent and so I really couldn’t help answer that question very well,” says Reutter.

Reutter says Ohio’s toxic algae problems in the 1970s were mostly linked to poor sewage treatment. Now, the source of toxic algae comes mainly from fertilizer run-off from thousands of farms.

A proposal to ban the spread of manure on frozen farm fields stalled last month in the state legislature. Reutter calls such a ban a “big deal” and he says it would have immediate effects.

“It just makes a lot of sense, everybody knows it makes sense. So, hopefully we see that piece of legislation again and it passes.” says Reutter.

Reutter directs OSU’s Sea Grant College. He says he can “just about guarantee” there will be another algae bloom on Lake Erie this summer.

 

Photo: The blue-green algae inundating Lake Erie and some other Ohio lakes is fueled by fertilizer runoff from farm fields and lawns.(Photo: Flickr)

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