EPA to spend $4 million fighting toxic Lake Erie algae

EPA to spend $4 million fighting toxic Lake Erie algae

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Just one day after the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill aimed at keeping chemicals that feed algae out of Lake Erie, the US Environmental Protection agency is pledging millions of dollars to fight the blooms.

The United States EPA announced Thursday it would allocate $4 million in Great Lakes Restoration Funds will help fight toxic algae in Lake Erie. The money will go to the Ohio EPA and target two specific northwest Ohio watersheds.

The bulk of the money will go to preventing the flow of phosphorus from the Maumee River watershed into Lake Erie through cropland retirement, stream and wetland restoration and stabilization of eroding stream banks.

The rest will be spent to help stop nutrient runoff and soil erosion in the Sandusky River watershed.

"The funding that was announced today addresses the regions of concern that effect the water quality in the western [Lake Erie] basin. So I think it's very good news," said Bowling Green State University Biology Professor George Bulljahn.

Lake Erie Waterkeeper Sandy Bihn is more skeptical.

"I think a lot of us are beginning to question exactly what benefit is the lake getting from these projects. We want to know how many pounds of prosperous each project will reduce, as opposed to just dolling out the money and hoping that it will have a good impact," said Bihn.

The funding announcement comes on the heels of lawmakers passing the Clean Lake Erie Act, a bill that makes it illegal for Ohio farmers to spread manure on frozen and rain-soaked fields. The bill would also ban the dumping of dredged sediment in the lake within five years.

"Overall it's a step in the right direction, a small step. What we really need to do is have an overall plan to make sure we get the reductions that we need for the lake so that the lake is healthy again," said Bihn.

"I think it's a very good first step, more will need to be done, but let's celebrate this moment as it is," said Bulljahn.

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