New Maps Show Direct Link Between Western Ohio Farms and Increased Algae Bloom Threats in Lake Erie

by

2 comments
PHOTO BY ERIC SANDY
  • Photo by Eric Sandy
As sprawling algae blooms turned the Maumee River green in downtown Toledo this fall, Lucas County Commissioners turned up the heat on the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the many western Ohio farmers that are contributing to the dramatic uptick in Lake Erie's phosphorus levels.

"Don’t defend the status quo that is poisoning our lake," Lucas County commissioner Pete Gerken said earlier this week, referencing newly published maps that link certain "lower Maumee" farmland areas to increased levels of phosphorus (fertilizer) pollution. Lucas County and the city of Toledo have spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to combat this hazardous runoff. This year's algae bloom was the "third worst" on record; in 2014, the city of Toledo shut down its water supply for three days as the algae overtook its resources.



maumee.png
The state's Department of Agriculture only has a voluntary policy on cutting back on fertilizer use, which tracks with the Department's stance toward farmers' environmental impact elsewhere. (Even when 66,701 "manure-based fish kills" were discovered in the Maumee River watershed in August, the Department of Agriculture sought no penalties against the farmers responsible for the manure discharges. The Department issued two warnings and blamed the manure-related fish deaths on "large unexpected weather events.")

Without firm state guidance, researchers said at the 2017 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium this week, the impetus remains on individual farmers to stay on stop of soil erosion and phosphorus runoff. The new maps show precisely where the source of the problem is — and where to double down on the environmental work against the algae bloom threat



Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment
 

Add a comment