Archive

Ohio lawmakers make move on algae despite limited facts | TribLIVE.com
News

Ohio lawmakers make move on algae despite limited facts

The Associated Press
LakeErieAlgaeJPEG031de
Algae clouds the water near the City of Toledo water intake crib in Lake Erie.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Ohio’s lawmakers are taking their first step toward slowing the spread of algae in Lake Erie since a toxin contaminated the drinking water for more than 400,000 people.

Legislation approved in the state House would ban farmers in much of northwestern Ohio from spreading manure on top of frozen or saturated fields. Another provision would set new rules on dumping dredged sediment in the lake.

Both are thought to contribute to the algae blooms that produce dangerous toxins. But how much those proposed changes — they still need approval in the Ohio Senate — would help isn’t certain.

Research is limited on how much of the phosphorus that feeds the algae blooms comes from dredging and from livestock farmers spreading manure onto frozen and snow-covered fields in the winter.

Still, both are thought to be factors and pressure has been rising on state and federal officials to fix the troubled lake in the months since toxins from the algae left residents around Toledo and in southeastern Michigan without water for two days in August.

“We need to start doing something,” said Rep. Mike Sheehy, a Democrat from the Toledo suburb of Oregon who called for a ban on the spread of manure on frozen ground well before Toledo’s water crisis.

“It’s not something that all of a sudden somebody just thought up,” he said. “There’s some pretty good science that suggest those are major contributors.”

The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service says less than 20 percent of agriculture-related phosphorus in western Lake Erie comes from livestock manure; the rest is from commercial fertilizer. This past spring, Ohio put in place a law requiring most farmers to undergo training and be certified by the state before they use commercial fertilizers on their fields, though that requirement is not yet in effect.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.