Senator Brown Comments On Toledo Water Crisis
Calls for stronger laws to regulate manure runoff into Lake Erie
August 04, 2014
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Columbus – State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) released the following statement today regarding the Toledo water crisis and the need for reducing Lake Erie toxic algae blooms to help prevent similar situations from occurring in the future.  Senator Brown is a member of the Council of State Governments and serves on CSG’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus.

“The water crisis in Northwest Ohio over the weekend highlights the necessity to keep Lake Erie and our water supply free from toxic algae and other pollutants that are harmful to our collective health and negatively impact commerce in our region. Because there is no single solution that will solve this problem, we need a comprehensive approach to reduce the multiple sources of phosphorous that are contributing to the toxic algae bloom outbreaks.

“We know that the main contributors to toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie—the sources of this water contamination—are phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from fertilizers used by farms, waste from livestock pens, and inadequately treated sewage from sewer overflows and faulty household sewage septic systems.  All these factors must be addressed to ensure Ohioans have clean, safe drinking water for healthy lives and to sustain our businesses.

“Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 150 to require certification of fertilizer applicators.  This is a good first step in addressing runoff from farms and feedlots.  But, there are two major shortcomings to this law.  First, SB 150 fails to include animal manure under the newly established guidelines for the application of fertilizer to fields.  Second, fertilizer applicators are not required to comply with the law until 2017.

“Toxic algae does not distinguish between the source of a nutrient; phosphorus is phosphorus, regardless of whether it originates from commercial fertilizer or animal manure. That is why I plan to introduce legislation to add animal manure to the list of fertilizers that are regulated under state law and to require more immediate compliance with the certification.

“This water crisis highlights the necessity for urgent action to further mitigate toxic algae blooms in our water, and I hope the General Assembly will act quickly to look at this bill and any others that contribute to solving this problem.

“I am inspired by the way our communities in Northwest Ohio came together in response to this crisis and helped one another in the spirit of generosity and compassion.  I want to thank Mayor Collins, and the many volunteers, organizations, elected officials and government agencies who did not hesitate to come to the aide of those in need in our neighborhoods. I will continue to work with all interested parties to identify additional steps we can take to keep our water supply in Toledo and Northwest Ohio safe and clean.”

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