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Great Lakes’ water quality must be our top priority

Register • Aug 5, 2014 at 12:17 PM

The recent news in Northern Ohio has been the impact of the algal bloom on the Toledo Municipal Water System, because of cyanic toxins in the drinking water.

Toxins in the water supply are and will continue to be a threat to all of the waters of the nation, yet the “Clean Water Act” is minimally enforced selectively by federal and state agencies.

The current situation Toledo is dealing with needs to be a warning to us that we must be proactive to protect our water resources.

Why does it have to come to a situation such as this to get our state and federal legislators to act responsibly?

The impact of excess nutrients in the major tributaries feeding the Western Basin of Lake Erie have been well known and documented with the algal blooms over the past few years.

What has actually been done to prevent the nutrients from getting into the lake? Have enforceable regulations been put in place to prevent practices that directly cause the problem? The answer is “no” on both counts.

Nothing is in place to stop or prevent it now.

Something that is scheduled to happen years down the line is of little use to us now.

Actions cannot be delayed. We cannot afford to have our water systems impacted by lack of action in dealing with known issues with directly causing adverse impacts on our water quality.

How many years has the Ohio EPA granted permits to the United States Army Corps of Engineers to dump sediments in the open lake from the dredging of shipping channels in Maumee River and Maumee Bay that are heavily laden with nutrients as well as who know what other potentially toxic materials.

How many cities continue to dump under-treated and or untreated sewage into tributaries and actual Lake Erie, because of outdated and undersized systems that are in many cases combined storm/ sanitary water systems.

The call by most of the involved parties is that we have no money to do what is needed. I would say that we cannot afford to not do what is needed to protect our water supply.

The current algal bloom problems are only minor as compared to some potentially major catastrophes that could occur if our current situations continue.

How many times have trains lost railroad cars off the bridge into Sandusky Bay?

How many manufacturing facilities or pipeline transport companies have multimillion gallon tanks filled with enough toxic materials with inadequate diking or aging pipelines transporting enough materials to impact the water supplies for years?

How about hydraulic fracturing and the potential of millions of gallons of extremely toxic waste water getting into our Great Lakes and other water supplies?

Agriculture is being declared the primary source of the nutrients generating our algae blooms. The Phosphorus Task Force Studies will help evaluate this situation.

Confined animal feeding operations generate huge amounts of animal waste that are difficult if not impossible to manage with the available land resources available to them. There is also an issue with crop land and the practices involved with tillage and fertilization of row crops providing opportunities for huge quantities of nutrients to get into our water.

Drainage practices have created increased water loads on drainage systems ditches and lines that increase the passage of nutrients into the tile systems and flooding issues downstream where periods of water concentration have been sharply reduced.

A point we cannot ignore is that our weather patterns are changing and becoming less predictable and more radical. We are having what would be considered to be 25 or 50 year storms almost annually and sometimes more often. We must be prepared to protect our water. We cannot live without clean water. We cannot afford our water supply to be exploited by irresponsible actions or inaction.

We need to contact all of our legislators and make them understand that safe drinking water must be a priority and cannot be taken for granted.

Rick Graham

• Monroeville resident Rick Graham is president of the All-State chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, a nonprofit conservation organization

• Email: rick.graham@ohiostatebuckeyes

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