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Redfern Calls for Emergency State Funding to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

Lake Erie lawmaker looking to long-term funding fix for research, mitigation
August 2, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

State Rep. Chris Redfern (D- Catawba Island) early Saturday morning announced he is working toward emergency funding to reduce and control harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. The Lake Erie lawmaker's announcement follows early morning "do not drink" orders for City of Toledo water customers due to dangerous toxin concentrations from harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the lake. Boiling the water can pose a greater health risk, as it increases the concentration of the toxins.

"It is absolutely necessary that the state step up to meet the ongoing threat of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie," said Rep. Redfern. "The state has a responsibility to provide for the public health of our greatest natural resource, and for the people who rely on the lake for something as fundamental as drinking water."

Saturday morning, tests at Collins Park Water Treatment Plant in Toledo showed microcystin levels at a dangerous concentration in drinking water. The city voluntarily tests for the toxic blue-green algae that is a poisonous byproduct of HABs.

Redfern said that-- although the city does choose to test for microcystin --the state should look at mandating testing requirements for the toxic algae, a measure he said could be linked with long-term funding for HAB research and mitigation.

Redfern used his position on the powerful state controlling board-- a state spending oversight panel --to call attention to the need for greater state funding when the panel approve a January appropriation for $600,000 to meet federal EPA grant requirements for university studies pinpointing HAB sources.

Redfern represents the 89th Ohio House district, which includes the western basin of Lake Erie.