UT Law School hosts Great Lakes Water Conference

UT Law School hosts Great Lakes Water Conference

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - While the Harmful Algae Bloom season is over, there is still much to discuss about the future of protecting Toledo's water.

The University of Toledo's Law School hosted the Great Lakes Water Conference Friday.

During the conference, business owners, neighbors and farmers listened to experts talk about what is happening with Lake Erie.

"There are multi jurisdictions throughout Lake Erie and in order to start working on those we are going to have to have everyone pulling in the same direction," Karl Gebhardt of the Ohio EPA said.

Representatives from both the Ohio EPA and Michigan EPA spoke about impaired status.

Many of those at the conference say Lake Erie needs to be declared impaired.

"One of the major issues is these factory farms," Tom Harrison of the Wood County Farmer's Union said. "That's why the impairment of Lake Erie is crucial."

"The Clean Water Act is the best backup plan we have because if you want to move to enforceable measures to reduce agricultural phosphorous discharges, the Clean Water Act does let you do that," Madeline Fleisher of the Environmental Law and Policy Center said.

The US EPA was supposed to have a speaker at the conference, but they canceled at the last minute.

Frank Szollosi of the National Wildlife Federation says it shows the EPA is not taking Lake Erie seriously enough.

"Toledo can't wait six years or 10 years to have this problem solved," Szollosi said. "ProMedica is on the water front now. Owens Corning is on the water front now. We have money that is going into the Marina District, where we are trying to attract people to live on the river. We don't have the time to wait six, eight, 10 years to solve this problem."

Szollosi says an impairment designation would mean accountability. The federal government is making sure the state is keeping their promise to clean up our waterways.

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