Total Maximum Daily Load: Court case looks to push for Ohio EPA nutrients limit for Lake Erie

Sep 10, 2020

For the second time in two years Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center appears to have forced the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s hand in seeking solutions to Lake Erie’s ongoing nutrients pollution problem.

In U.S Northern District of Ohio Court hearings on July 17 and July 30, ELPC attorneys sought a summary judgement requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force OEPA to create a total maximum daily load for western Lake Erie, and a set, enforceable schedule for achieving nutrients reductions.

The suit was filed Feb. 7. Just a few days later, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the OEPA intended to create a TMDL, something environmental advocates had been seeking for years.

“The judge has heard extensively from both plaintiffs, ELPC and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie,” said Howard Learner, ELPC director. “The judge heard arguments from both sides on the Clean Water Act issues, all of which are focused on the recurring, longstanding toxic algae problem in western Lake Erie. The evidence is clear: 90% of the phosphorous pollution causing the toxic algae outbreaks almost every summer is attributable to agriculture runoff into the water and that’s principally fertilizer and manure.”

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