Dumping in Lake Erie

Ohio EPA vows to find alternatives to putting dredged dirt in the open lake
Tom Jackson
May 29, 2014


Armed with $10 million that state Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, helped obtain for it, the Ohio EPA hopes to significantly reduce or even eliminate open lake dumping in Toledo's harbor over the next five years.

Open lake dumping in Lake Erie has been an issue for years among environmentalists.

The timetable announced by Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler isn't fast enough for the Ohio Environmental Council, which said it amounts to an announcement that open lake dumping will continue for another year.

"We are disappointed that yet another season of open-lake disposal of dredged materials from the Toledo Harbor is in store for Lake Erie," said Kristy Meyer, managing director for agricultural, health and clean water programs at the OEC.

 "But credit the Ohio EPA for committing to more environmentally-friendly, beneficial use of dredged materials from the Toledo Harbor in the near future," she said.

Jeffrey Reutter, director of Stone Laboratory, said he's pleased by the Ohio EPA's announcement.

"It's a very good thing to do," he said. "I'm very supportive of what Ohio EPA is trying to do."

The situation with the harbor is difficult, Reutter said.

"You don't want to shut down the port, and if you don't dredge, that's what you have to do."

Butler said an  agreement has been reached by Ohio EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that carries out the dredging.

“This condition in the water quality certification creates a partnership between the State of Ohio and the USACE to protect the health of Lake Erie by seeking an economical and beneficial use for the dredge material to reduce and eventually eliminate open lake placement,”  Butler said. “The agreement also keeps Toledo harbor and the federal shipping channel open, which is critical to the economic growth of Northwest Ohio.” 

Gardner, backed by Gov. John Kasich and administration officials, obtained the $10 million in the state's new capital improvements budget.

By law, the Corps of Engineers has to use the cheapest environmentally-acceptable method for getting rid of dredged materials. 

The corps contends that open lake dumping is environmentally acceptable. The state will cover the additional cost of using alternative methods, such as using dredged soil for landfill cover, fill dirt, wetlands restoration and uses on farms. Butler said he hopes to have several demonstration projects under way by the end of the current dredging season.

Reutter said the massive scale of dredging in the Toledo harbor makes the Ohio EPA's actions good news.

"The dump in the Toledo area is probably bigger than all the other dumps in the Great Lakes combined," he said, referring to open lake dumping. 

He said the Corps of Engineers puts about 800,000 to 1 million cubic yards of dredged dirt back into the lake every year. Because of the amount of dirt, that puts significant amounts of phosphorus into the lake, feeding harmful algal blooms. 

The dumping also makes the water of the lake dirtier and less clear, affecting creatures such as spawning fish that are on the bottom of the lake, he said. 



WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is poised to unveil the first rules limiting carbon emissions from the thousands of power plants across the nation.

Obama says the rules are essential to curb the heat-trapping greenhouse gases blamed for “global warming.” Critics contend the rules will kill jobs, drive up electricity prices and shutter plants across the country.
Obama to Unveil New Rules on Carbon Emissions, Climate Change

FILE – This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. The White House confirmed that Hillary Clinton had lunch with President Obama Thursday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Environmentalists and industry advocates alike are eagerly awaiting the specifics, which the Environmental Protection Agency will make public for the first time on Monday and Obama will champion from the White House.

While the details remain murky, the administration says the rules will play a major role in achieving the pledge Obama made in Copenhagen during his first year in office to cut America’s carbon emissions by about 17 percent by 2020.

Some questions and answers about the proposal:

Q: How does the government plan to limit emissions?

A: Unable to persuade Congress to act on climate change, Obama is turning to the Clean Air Act. The 1970s-era law has long been used to regulate pollutants like soot, mercury and lead but has only recently been applied to greenhouse gases.

Unlike with new power plants, the government can’t regulate existing plant emissions directly. Instead, the government will issue guidelines for cutting emissions, then each state will develop its own plan to meet those guidelines. If a state refuses, the EPA can create its own plan.

Q: Why does the Obama administration consider the rules necessary?

A: Power plants are the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Environmentalists and the White House say without bold action, climate change will intensify and endanger the public’s well-being around the world. In its National Climate Assessment this year, the administration said warming and erratic weather will become increasingly disruptive unless curtailed.

“This is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now,” Obama said earlier this month.

Of course, the United States is only one player in the global climate game. These rules won’t touch carbon emissions in other nations whose coal plants are even dirtier. But the White House believes that leading by example gives the U.S. more leverage to pressure other countries to reduce their own emissions.

Q: How steep will the reductions be?

A: We don’t know.

The administration hasn’t said whether it will set one universal standard or apply different standards in each state. But Obama’s senior counselor, John Podesta, said the reductions will be made “in the most cost-effective and most efficient way possible,” by giving flexibility to the states.

That could include offsetting emissions by increasing the use of solar and nuclear power, switching to cleaner-burning fuels like natural gas or creating efficiency programs that reduce energy demand. States might also pursue an emissions-trading plan – also known as cap-and-trade – as several northeast states have already done.

Q: How will they affect my power bill? What about the economy?

A: It depends where you live. Different states have a different mixes of coal versus gas and other fuels, so the rules will affect some states more than others. Dozens of coal-burning plants have already announced they plan to close.

Still, it’s a good bet the rules will drive up electricity prices. The U.S. relies on coal for 40 percent of its electricity, and the Energy Department predicts retail power prices will rise this year because of environmental regulations, economic forces and other factors.

Environmentalists argue that some of those costs are offset by decreased health care costs and other indirect benefits. They also say the transition toward greener fuels could create jobs.

Q: Doesn’t Obama need approval from Congress?

A: Not for this. A 2007 Supreme Court ruling gave the EPA the green light to regulate carbon-dioxide under the Clean Air Act. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be fierce opposition and drawn-out litigation. The government is expecting legal challenges and is preparing to defend the rules in court if necessary.

Q: Is this the final step?

A: Not even close. After the draft rule is proposed, there’s a full year for public comment and revisions. Then states have another year to submit their implementation plans to the EPA.

Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Dina Cappiello contributed to this report

2cents's picture


Q: Did the Energy Department give a loan to an energy company connected to Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law?


2cents's picture

"He said the Corps of Engineers puts about 800,000 to 1 million cubic yards of dredged dirt back into the lake every year. Because of the amount of dirt, that puts significant amounts of phosphorus into the lake, feeding harmful algal blooms."

I see a big oxymoron here, so the material is removed from the lake and then put back into the lake and somehow the phosphors multiplies?

Stop It

Exactly. WTF?

AJ Oliver

It's runoff, mostly from farm land.
The Corps has also dumped dredgings along both sides of the shipping channel, making it less safe and less usable for recreational boaters.
The Koch-inspired right wing attacks anyone who is concerned about the environment. Peak oil is here - time for cleaner and less carbonized energy. The rest of the world gets it.


Looks like the rest of the world don't get it either contrary to your statement. http://www.actionforourplanet.co... (this statement in no way endorses the fairy tale of global warming manufactured by the left)


Because the exposed phosphorusin the sediment has already been absorbed by the water,it is the unabsorbed phosphorus that is "buried" in the sediment is then re-exposed to the water when dredged. This is what the EPA is trying to mitigate.

AJ Oliver

If you have no clue as to what science is and how it works, I doubt if you can even balance a checkbook or buy a used car without getting totally ripped off. Trained scientists are not the same a paid shills or ideologues. You should have learned that in high school.