EPA plan for watershed criticized

Larry Limpf

News Editor

Members of Lake Erie Advocates took aim Thursday at a draft plan of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollutants into Lake Erie, saying the proposal doesn’t adequately address run-off from large-scale factory farms.
The OEPA held two hearings in Bowling Green on the agency’s draft Total Maximum Daily Load program. A TMDL is the calculation of a maximum amount of a pollutant allowed to enter a body of water so it meets water quality standards for that particular pollutant.
The OEPA is accepting comments on its draft Maumee River Watershed Nutrient Water Quality Improvement Plan. The agency will accept comments on the plan through March 8 and then respond to the comments, said Anthony Chenault, media coordinator for the agency.
Lake Erie Advocates cited research it says shows the OEPA recommendations to stop toxic algae are inadequate.
Mike Ferner, an LEA organizer, said the OEPA document is “too little, too late” because:
-It doesn’t consider reducing the liquid manure from animals confined in more than 800 factory farms that’s spread untreated on farm fields
-It doesn’t use the best available science and instead measures only Total Phosphorus to determine results. For more than a decade scientists have found that Dissolved Phosphorus or Soluble Phosphorus is what fuels Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms.
“Instead of reducing the amount of liquid manure, OEPA recommendations rely almost exclusively on expensive, ineffective ‘H2Ohio’ programs like no-till, buffer strips, grassed waterways and manure injection,” Ferner said. “We’ve reviewed the scientific literature and found such programs have not significantly improved water quality and never will.”
He criticized the OEPA, saying the agency continues letting industrial agriculture interests continue to influence Ohio’s environmental policies.
“Nobody else will talk about the factory ‘farm’ elephant in the room so we will and this hearing is the time to do it,” he said.
Ferner cited the water crisis that hit Lake Erie in 2014, leaving the City of Toledo without drinking water for three days, as proof the OEPA hasn’t acted swiftly enough to address the problem.


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