Wednesday, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 1, bipartisan legislation to reduce toxic algae in Lake Erie. S.B. 1 comes a little less than a year after 500,000 Toledo residents were left without clean drinking water for three days after toxic algae blooms contaminated the water supply in the western Lake Erie basin.
“We know there is still work to be done, but I am confident that this proposal will lead to significant progress and cleaner and safer water for Ohioans,” said State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). “I’m proud that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have come together to take positive steps that will improve our waterways, especially the western Lake Erie basin.”
S.B. 1 would prohibit the application of fertilizer and manure on frozen and saturated ground within the western basin of Lake Erie. The bill will also require some publicly-owned water treatment facilities to begin monthly monitoring of phosphorus by December 1, 2016. Starting on July 1, 2020, the legislation bans depositing dredged material in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie and its tributaries.
“Since last August, lawmakers have worked together with community leaders, local citizens, farmers, stakeholders and experts to help find meaningful solutions to promote a healthier Lake Erie,” said State Rep. and Agriculture and Rural Development Committee Ranking Member John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “We’ve still got more work to do, but S.B. 1 is a much-needed step in ensuring that our state’s greatest natural resource maintains its vitality for years to come.”
The Ohio Senate confered on the House’s changes later that day. It is anticipated that the Governor will sign S.B. 1 into law by the end of this week.