A New Lake Erie Battle: Lucas County Sues U.S. EPA Over Western Basin Water Quality

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Disagreements over how to improve the health of Lake Erie have led to yet another federal lawsuit in Ohio. This time the plaintiff is the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, who filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against the U.S. EPA. The lawsuit accuses the U.S. EPA of failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act, which the county believes has led to an “alarming” decline in the water quality of western Lake Erie. Continue reading

Ohio Attorney General Yost Asks To Join In The Lake Erie Bill Of Rights Lawsuit

By: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Ohio Attorney General filed a motion in the Drewes Farm Partnership v. City of Toledo case seeking to intervene as a plaintiff alongside the Drewes Farm Partnership. The motion argues that the state of Ohio has a significant interest in the protection of Lake Erie, along with a significant interest in supporting Ohio’s agricultural, environmental, and natural resources laws. Continue reading

Gov. Dewine Outlines H2Ohio Water Quality Initiative

From: Ohio Ag Net

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine outlined his H2Ohio water quality initiative, which he is introducing as part of his proposed budget for the 2020-2021 biennium.

“Water is vital to everyone, yet communities throughout the state face real and different challenges, such as algae blooms, failing septic tanks, nutrient pollution, and threats of lead contamination,” Governor DeWine said. “We cannot continue to lurch from water crisis to water crisis. I am proposing an H2Ohio initiative that would allow us to invest in targeted, long-term solutions to ensure safe and clean water across the state of Ohio.” Continue reading

New Lake Erie Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. EPA

By: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

We can’t say that Lake Erie is back in the news, because lately it hasn’t left the news. However, there is a new lawsuit in federal court that seeks further action from either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Ohio EPA regarding Lake Erie water quality. Filed on February 7, 2019 by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Toledo-based Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, this new lawsuit alleges that the U.S. EPA improperly signed off on action taken by the Ohio EPA to designate Lake Erie as an impaired water body without implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to restrict discharges such as agricultural runoff. The plaintiffs weren’t necessarily unhappy about the designation, but they were not happy about the lack of a TMDL. Continue reading

Lake Erie Bill of Rights Issue To Go To Toledo Voters

By Ellen Essman, Sr. Research Associate, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Ohio Supreme Court recently decided that a “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” initiative could be placed before Toledo residents in a special election Feb. 26, 2019. The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR) is a proposed amendment to the Toledo City Charter. Josh Abernathy, an opponent to the initiative, brought the lawsuit, seeking a “writ of prohibition”— meaning he wanted the Ohio Supreme Court to determine that the Lucas County Board of Elections must remove LEBOR from the special election ballot. Continue reading

New Phosphorus Research Project for The Maumee Watershed

By: Ohio Ag Net staff

Some farm fields in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed have more phosphorus than their crops can use. Called “elevated phosphorus fields,” such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms.

That’s the premise of a new five-year, $5 million study that hopes to learn about those fields and lower that risk by creating new public-private partnerships.

Led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the study plans to monitor and manage more than a dozen elevated phosphorus fields, all in the Maumee River watershed. Continue reading

Research Continues to Address Lake Erie Woes

By: Ohio Ag Net

Ohio Sea Grant, on behalf of The Ohio State UniversityThe University of Toledo and the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE), has released the third-year research findings update for the statewide Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI), which seeks solutions for harmful algal blooms in Ohio.

The initiative consists of more than 50 science teams working on different critical knowledge gaps identified by front-line state agencies that include the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Continue reading

Legislators Propose “Clean Lake 2020 Plan” Funding to Reduce Lake Erie Phosphorus

By: Peggy Hall, Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law, Ohio State University

A pair of companion bi-partisan bills just introduced in the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives would provide significant funding to help meet Ohio’s goal of reducing phosphorus loading by 20% in Lake Erie by 2020. Continue reading

From Across the Field – Impairment in the Western Basin

I figure by now everyone has heard or read that Ohio EPA and the Governor’s office have made the decision to include the open waters of the Western Lake Erie Basin on a list of impaired waters of the state due the persistent algae blooms over the past near decade. What does this word “impaired” mean and what will the response be? Two questions that nobody has a clear answer for. Impairment is a federal designation that says that a body of water is either not fit for recreation, drinking, or both. The Chesapeake Bay watershed has been operating under this impaired status for a number of years. Continue reading