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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Members of Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie plan to continue their focus on Toledo officials as the group pushes to have Lake Erie’s western basin designated as an impaired watershed.

About 15 members of the environmental group picketed outside the East Toledo Family Center Wednesday night where Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson held a town hall meeting.

Mike Ferner, a coordinator with the group, said he’s puzzled why the city hasn’t asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the designation when the Lucas County commissioners and Oregon City Council have already sought the impaired listing.

“It looks like it may be turning into some kind of political football. There doesn’t seem to be any substantive reason for the mayor and council to refuse to join with the county and City of Oregon,” he said Thursday. “Our mayor and city council are displaying a dangerous mix of arrogance and ignorance if they think they can come up with something better than the U.S. EPA, which has administered thousands of impaired watershed cleanups.”

The Clean Water Act requires lists of impaired waters to be compiled, defining “impaired” as waters for which regulations and other required controls aren’t stringent enough to meet water quality standards set by states. The act requires states establish prioritized rankings for waters on the lists and calculate the amount of a pollutant a body of water can have and still meet quality standards.

During her town hall meeting, Mayor Hicks-Hudson referred to the lake’s condition and said she was in Lorian, O. the day before for talks with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about dredging. She noted that dumping in the lake contributes to water quality issues along with other sources such as agriculture.

She repeated a point she made in her State of the City address about the Ohio EPA approving an ozonation process at the city’s water treatment plant, which will remove microcystin and other contaminants from the water and reduce the use of chlorine during treatment.

Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie also picketed at a previous town hall meeting of the mayor and at a fundraiser she held at a United Auto Workers hall on Jackman Road.

The group also held a press conference last week to question the credibility of a consulting firm asked by the city to testify at a council hearing to discuss Lake Erie. The hearing had been scheduled for May 16 but has been postponed.

“It begs the question if city officials aren’t trying to just find some cover with the consultant to completely avoid supporting the impaired designation,” Ferner said. “That makes no sense environmentally or fiscally for the city. They seem to be listening to somebody who’s telling them they don’t need to go with the already established process the U.S. EPA has.”

 

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