|Focus on health of Lake Erie|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:08|
A legislative amendment approved Wednesday by the Ohio Senate aims to improve conservation in Lake Erie.
The amendment is sponsored by Sen. Randy Gardner (R - Bowling Green).
The measure reappropriates approximately $1.6 million in existing state funds toward conservation practices in the counties of the Western Lake Erie Basin and specifically provides for transferring money to the Healthy Lake Erie Fund to address open lake dumping of dredged materials in hopes of staunching algal blooms on the lake.
"This amendment says the algae problem in Lake Erie is not just about agricultural runoff," said Gardner this morning. "It's a multifaceted problem that also includes open lake dumping, industrial and commercial waste, residential sources. And so I saw an opportunity in this legislation, Senate Bill 150, to at least begin to tackle the open lake dumping problem."
This year was reportedly the second-worst algal bloom season on record in the lake.
Gardner's amendment received the support of agriculture groups, environmental organizations and charter boat captains who testified in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.
"Charter boat captains I spoke with this week, they believe they've seen direct evidence of this (open lake dumping) being part of the problem," said Gardner.
Gardner worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and received support from the Ohio Farm Bureau for his amendment. He said, at the federal level, that the amendment will also involve working with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Gardner noted that, though the amendment is not a solution to the open lake dumping issue, "it's an aggressive start."
The amendment is included in legislation scheduled for a final committee and senate floor vote next week. The bill and amendment will then be considered by the Ohio House of Representatives in December.
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