Lucas County Commissioners, city leaders join forces in request to declare Lake Erie 'impaired'

Lucas County Commissioners, city leaders join forces in request to declare Lake Erie 'impaired'

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson and the city of Toledo have asked for Lake Erie to be declared impaired.  She made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, after holding out before saying declaring it impaired is more of a feel good thing.

The impaired status will handle the western part of Lake Erie which includes the Maumee River.

However on Monday, the mayor thought asking for a declaration of impairment doesn't do much and that it turns the local water issues over to the federal government, when we need to fix it here.

But Tuesday, she changed her mind.

The letters with the mayor's request are on the way to Governor Kasich and President Trump. But just because Mayor Hicks-Hudson asked for the lake to be declared as impaired, doesn't mean it is.

She is asking for the designation from state and federal leaders.  This would then, put the lake on an impaired waterways list, and require federal regulations.

Hicks-Hudson believes the clean water act alone with a declared impairment is not enough and she wants President Trump to sign an executive order calling to restore the water quality.

"All of the different departments and agencies, sit them around the table come up with a plan and a strategy for us to move forward, but I also believe that by having this declaration, Northwest Ohio, Lucas County, City of Toledo, we are all speaking with one voice," said Hicks-Hudson.

She said even if the Lake is declared impaired this isn't going to happen overnight, but they are shouting for help.

The Lucas County Commissioners also met Monday, holding one of their meetings right on the Maumee River for the first time.

Commissioner Pete Gerken said he's glad to finally have the city on the team. He says, Toledo needs as many neighbors, local leaders, state leaders and even federal leaders on board with this.

The commissioners have asked Governor Kasich to come as soon as Wednesday to come and look at local water.

They also claim they know what the problem is; the Maumee runoff.

Therefore is Lake Erie is impaired, the focus can be on stopping the runoff instead of spending millions on treating the water after it is already been tainted.

Commissioner Carol Contrada is calling this the first step to implementing solutions.

It took the Chesapeake Bay 40 years for impaired status but, she said, we don't have 40 years. This needs to be fixed, now.

"What is critical is that we understand what that means, that means that we are asking for a total maximum daily load, a TMDL, for the entire basin so that we can work together to actually solve the problem instead of just say these are the statistics and say what are we going to do? We know what to do," said Contrada.

Both the city and the county want to make sure everyone knows, that Toledo's drinking water is still safe as of right now.

And anyone in support of declaring Lake Erie impaired, they are urging supporters to join them in writing to state and federal legislators

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