Ohio Grassroots Group Wants A Great Lake To Have Its Own Bill Of Rights
Here's the question should one of the Great Lakes have its own Bill of rights aggress roots group in Toledo things. So this is after other efforts to protect western lake. Erie from toxic algae blooms have failed. As Michigan radio's Tracey Samuelson reports. Toledo voters have a decision next week. Nobody in Toledo can forget those three days in August. Twenty fourteen. When a thick bright green mass of toxic cyanobacteria surrounded the city's water intake in western lake. Erie four hundred thousand people were told to stop drinking their tap water until the mass moved away since then the blooms have persisted in the summer fed mainly by manure and fertilizer runoff from nearby farms suit Carter supports the Lake Erie Bill of rights. She lives on the western shore of the lake where the blooms appear every summer is full foam green slime that you could put your hands through carp that are gasping for air. And it happens all the time the referendum election next Tuesday would. Amend? Toledo city charter to authorize any resident to legally advocate for the lake experts. Say it's unlikely to hold up in court so called community rights measures have been adopted by voters in other states and then struck down as unconstitutional, but it's a sign of just how desperate people here are to clean up the green slime that threatens their drinking water, not to mention swimming, fishing, or boating could the amendment pass it appears opponents think so and they're blanketing local airwaves with dire warnings. Like this. These groups Bill writes, the rhino, her local farmers, the writer heard small businesses the right to drive up our food costs, Yvonne. The Cisco is with the Ohio farm bureau and says local farmers are concerned over the possibility of what she calls nuisance lawsuits that means that every farmer who is in the Lake Erie watershed. So that's the thirty five counties in northern Ohio are at risk of a lawsuit being brought against them cyanobacteria thrives on phosphorus. Farmer. Advocates say they're trying to keep phosphorus out of the lake, but the problem is most of these efforts are voluntary. And they're clearly not working dissolved phosphorus flowing into the lake has risen traumatically in recent years tissue. Dell is with community environmental legal defense fund which helped craft the charter amendment. She says people are sick and tired of waiting for a solution. Well, if the people would just wait another fifteen to twenty years for our. Reducing fertilizer in that maybe that we've see an impact I'm like the lake will be dead in twenty years. Oh, del concedes that if it passes the Toledo measure could be struck down by the courts, but she points out that civil rights movements have changed the law many times in the US and thinks the courts will eventually recognize that the environment has rights to Justice, they've recognized corporations have rights. Meanwhile, mainstream environmental groups are staying out of this fight though, they share the frustration. Howard learner is with the environmental law and policy center in his view, a new legal approach isn't necessary. He says the US EPA could and should fully enforce the clean water at focusing on the worst polluters, the large scale corn soy an animal feed lot operations, not the small farmers in the best of worlds US EPA would step up and say to the Ohio PA you have to act now too aggressively reduce the amount of manure. And other phosphorus runoff going into western Lake Erie. So far that hasn't happened. And the center is now asking a federal judge to order the EPA to impose mandatory regulations on farms and animal feedlots learner says that would offer the best hope for making parts of western lake eerie blue again in the summer instead of bright green for NPR news. I'm Tracey Samuelson. This message comes from NPR sponsor. Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators. That's why Comcast business is helping you with technology that provides better experiences. Comcast business beyond fast.