State Rep. Mike Sheehy (D-Oregon) will again propose legislation to help reduce toxic algal bloom growths in Lake Erie, following this weekend’s water crisis affecting over 400,000 in Northwest Ohio.
Rep. Sheehy’s bill would reduce the amount of manure run-off allowed from farms into streams and rivers that flow into Lake Erie. High phosphorus levels in manure are widely-known to contribute to algal blooms and increase dangerous microcystin levels in surrounding bodies of water. This weekend, the concentration of microcystin in the Western Lake Erie Basin surpassed World Health Organization thresholds and many residents in Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties were advised not to consume the water.
“I urge my colleagues to support any efforts to reduce run-off and stop the growth of toxic algal blooms from creating a cycle of public health crises along the Lake Erie shoreline,” said Rep. Sheehy. “This particular bloom isn’t expected to fully mature until September, so we must expedite our discussions of how to manage our state’s most precious natural resources and keep our citizens out of danger.”
In April, Rep. Sheehy offered a similar proposal to Senate Bill 150, a bill which aims to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the streams and lakes of Ohio by creating a fertilizer application certification for farmers. Rep. Sheehy’s proposal failed to gain enough support to be included in the legislation. Ultimately, SB 150 does not include manure in its definition of fertilizer and therefore fails to include the impact of manure on the Lake Erie watershed. The bill was signed into law this summer.
Rep. Sheehy’s stand-alone proposal is currently being circulated to garner bipartisan support from House members.