Pressure now put on state leaders to restore funding for Lake Erie cleanup

Pressure now put on state leaders to restore funding for Lake Erie cleanup

MAUMEE, OH (WTOL) - Massive cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is putting new pressure on those responsible for protecting Lake Erie.

With the President's budget calling for a 97 percent cut to funding for the Great Lakes, on the banks of the Maumee River, there were new demands for the state to take immediate action.

The Ohio Environmental Council brought together county and city leaders to the river bank at Side Cut Metropark.

"Toxic algae will continue to threaten people's drinking water until we get serious about addressing its causes," said Nick Mandros of the Ohio Environmental Council.

Frustration is setting in over what could happen if money used to address phosphorous runoff from farm fields goes away.

Toledo City Councilman Peter Ujvagi said at the news conference, "And if we have to turn to our state leadership and to our state budget to be able to address the issues of runoff and of new technology, or technology that's needed to be able to prevent those runoffs. We're going to have to do that."

Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada said Ohio has to better use regulations already on the books to help farmers control nutrient runoff.

"And state legislators need to embrace what they've already done and if something needs to be enhanced, they need to take action to enhance that. They also need to put some money behind some of this."

Mandros, the Ohio Environmental Council's regional director, predicted a dire situation if funding isn't somehow maintained.

"You'll see it return back to where it was in the 1970s. And we'll continue to have an algae bloom every year."

Commissioner Contrada also said more needs to be done to restore wetlands in Northwest Ohio, that naturally filter phosphorus and keep it from getting into the river and lake.

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