Algal blooms shouldn't be a surprise

Published:

No one should be surprised by the toxic algal blooms in western Lake Erie that recently closed the Toledo water treatment plant. Even before passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972, environmental regulators were concerned about eutrophication (premature aging due to excessive biological growth) of the lake. Consequently, in the mid-1970s the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued all wastewater treatment plants in the Lake Erie Watershed original permits that limited phosphorous discharges to 1 mg/l. They also initiated activity directed at having phosphorous removed as the sequesting agent in detergents used in the Lake Basin.

The Ohio EPA always attempts to implement the requirements of the Clean Water Act, because the majority of its budget comes from the federal government based on meeting specified goals. Although the CWA called for addressing surface water quality problems on a watershed basis, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Department of Natural Resources had little desire to add additional regulatory activity based on surface water quality to their responsibilities. Consequently, we have been waiting for over 40 years for the farming industry to regulate their runoff and discharges. This is comparable to waiting for the power industry to find cleaner fuel sources.

Some primary sources for phosphorous in Lake Erie are fertilizer runoff from farm fields, livestock manure, urban storm water runoff and home wastewater system discharges. Public wastewater treatment plants, such as Detroit, Toledo, Fort Wayne and Lima, phosphorous discharges are regulated by their permits; however this is still a significant phosphorous load. The Detroit plant had flows approaching 1 billion gallons per day. Also, combined sewer discharges in the Lake Basin have not been completely eliminated.

During the last three years, George Elmaragy, the recently, unjustly fired Ohio EPA surface water director, had given papers to the Ohio Water Environment Association that included satellite photos of the growing algal bloom in the Lake Basin. He also outlined needed programs to mitigate the pending crisis. All of these solutions require strong leadership from our governor and legislature. Since our current governor has demoralized the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health, and has shown little regard for the environment, I conclude that we desperately need a new governor.

James L. Greener, Rootstown

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.

  • Making fertillizer from biosolids...

    Biosolids are created through the treatment of domestic wastewater generated from sewage treatment facilities, in other words toilet flushings.

    Excerpts from: TOLEDO, Ohio, Sept. 29, 2011 /PR Newswire/ --

    N-Viro International Corporation (OTCQB: NVIC) responds to yesterday's Toledo Blade article headline link here, Toledo officials argue over how to handle sewage sludge.  N-Viro International Corporation is a Toledo based company that has been handling biosolids for the City of Toledo for over 20 years.  The N-Viro process safety treats and converts biosolids into a U.S. EPA designated  'Class A' product.  Land application of biosolids, especially the lower 'B' classifications of treatment is subject to increasing scrutiny across the industry.  For instance, Florida has recently adopted stricter regulations of Class B land application due to high phosphorus levels accumulating across Florida waterways.  Several states have either completely banned Class B land application or limited the area of application; in favor of more advanced forms of treatment.  

    N-Viro International, as a responsible caretaker of our environment speaks out against the pending debate within the City of Toledo to dispose of a minimum of 40,000 tons annually of Class B biosolids immediately next to the waters of Maumee Bay and Lake Erie.  Legitimate concerns exist that when it rains or snows the excess run off is unconstrained and eventually flows into the nearby waterway of the Maumee Bay and eventually into Lake Erie.......

    Using human feces and waste as ferilizer, and we wonder why the food and water taste like Crap.

    Deuteronomy 23:12-13...Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. v13...As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. (NIV)