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US EPA Responds to Lawsuit for "Impaired" Lake Erie

The algae bloom in September 2017 [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

The US Environmental Protection Agency says the Ohio EPA did not fully look at research on harmful algal blooms when considering adding Lake Erie to its list of “impaired” waters.

Two organizations are suing the US EPA to request an “impaired” designation for the open waters of western Lake Erie.  Calling the lake “impaired” would set limits on pollution sources including agricultural runoff and wastewater treatment plants.

Read the July complaint filed in federal court:


Madeline Fleisher is with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, one of the groups in the lawsuit.  “Since Ohio failed to evaluate the open waters of Lake Erie, what does that mean? Did that violate the Clean Water Act?  We’ll need to argue that question to the judge, and he will give us a ruling,” explains Fleisher.

Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie is the other organization.  In a statement, the organization’s leader, Mike Ferner, said “the Clean Water Act is still the law of the land and we intend to make the EPA do its job to protect our environment, our health and Toledo's drinking water.”

The US EPA's response to the original complaint, filed Friday:


Ohio EPA says it did consider the existing data on open water pollution, but some of the data did not meet the agency’s requirements for scientific rigor.

In the past, Ohio EPA officials have said they would support listing the open waters as impaired when a – quote – “defendable and science-based process for… de-listing becomes available.” 

Michigan has already designated its part of Lake Erie as impaired.