Lake Erie continues to be used as a toilet

To the Editor:

Experts were predicting the algal bloom in western Lake Erie would be less severe than last summer, but they just made an upward adjustment. Plus they are warning there’s lots of intense green water and pea-green scum on the surface.

Unfortunately, there’s been relatively little progress in cleaning up Lake Erie since the drinking water crisis in 2014 resulted in 500,000 Toledo-area residents losing access to safe drinking water for three days.

State officials boast that Gov. Mike DeWine’s $172 million H2Ohio program will reduce the phosphorus that is fueling the algal blooms through voluntary management practices – but it offers no penalties for noncompliance.

There is no accountability for H2Ohio measures because legislators added statutes requiring that H2Ohio records are not subject to disclosure. There is no transparency for how millions of dollars of taxpayer money is being utilized. Why are H2Ohio recipients being hidden from public scrutiny?

Last year, Wood County Soil & Water District supposedly executed agreements with over 150 producers with almost 6,000 acres of cropland receiving manure under the H2Ohio program.

However, I’ve noticed that some of the same large, contracted farmers applied manure to the same fields last year. Ironically, they are now “incentivized” with $60/acre of taxpayer money – even though they are supposed to be hauling the manure to areas with lower phosphorus concentrations.

One of Ohio’s foremost Lake Erie researchers, retired OSU Stone Lab Director Jeff Reutter, stated that H2Ohio is basically just “waste disposal.” He’s also concerned that the animal feeding operations (AFOs or factory farms) are resulting in an increase of manure “at a worrying scale”.

It seems the government’s primary goal is not to find a way to clean up Lake Erie, but rather, to find a way to allow factory farms to continue using Lake Erie as a free toilet.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is fighting to clean up the pollution and hold state and federal authorities responsible for ensuring a safe, clean Lake Erie.

I urge readers to call DeWine (614-466-3555) and tell him to stop the manure and clean up Lake Erie. See the ELPC website for more information: https://elpc.org/projects/cleaning-up-lake-erie.

See the Lake Erie Advocates website for more information about how factory farms are polluting Lake Erie and how to get involved: https://www.lakeerieadvocates.org/.

Vickie Askins

Cygnet