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Great Lakes Groups Threaten to Sue EPA

Lake Erie [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

Tuesday, a coalition of Great Lakes organizations  sent a notice of intent to sue the U.S. EPA.  They say the agency isn’t moving fast enough to clean up Lake Erie.

The filing from conservation, environmental, and boating groups is the latest effort to designate western Lake Erie as an “impaired” body of water. 

The National Wildlife Federation’s Frank Szollosi says his group is fed up.  “Time’s run out on our patience as far the US EPA is concerned,” said Szollosi.  “We filed this notice of intent to sue because we believe they’re in violation of the Clean Water Act.”

The Act states that the EPA has 30 days to approve or reject each state’s biennial list of “impaired” waters.  Michigan sent its list, which included their portion of the lake, last month. Ohio’s list, which did not include Lake Erie, was sent in October.

Once the EPA says a water body is impaired, it sets a daily limit on pollution. It also identifies sources of the pollution.

“The impairment designation is the first step in getting a tri-state pollution diet that will bring a measure of accountability for Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana,” Szollosi said.

The EPA says it is still reviewing the Michigan and Ohio lists.

Szollosi says a pollution diet for western Lake Erie could lead to similar action nationwide.

“If we can resolve this here, it could provide direction for Grand Lake St Mary’s, it could provide direction for other smaller inland lakes across the country that are suffering from an increasing presence of harmful algal blooms,” said Szollosi.

He compares the plight of Western Lake Erie to that of the Chesapeake Bay, which received an impairment designation in 2010.