October 01, 2015

Utilizing Farm Bill 2014 Incentives to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality

Clare E. Luddy

There is nothing like a crisis to clarify issues and motivate action. Prior to the summer of 2014, the western Lake Erie Basin had experienced harmful algae blooms (HABs) that made the lake water look like pea soup, a discouraging sight for boaters and swimmers. HABs are harmful cyanobacteria capable of producing toxins that can adversely affect the liver, nervous system, and skin. On August 2, 2014, the City of Toledo, Ohio, water treatment plant found the levels of toxins from the HABs near their Lake Erie water intake, even after treatment, warranted advising their 500,000 customers to stop drinking the water immediately. Residents were warned not to boil the water because that would only increase the toxic concentration and make it more dangerous. Suddenly there was a run on bottled water at stores, restaurants had to close, and businesses could not operate. Tyrel Linkhorn, Eateries Report Huge Losses, but Others Suffer too, Toledo Blade, Aug. 5, 2014. This was the three-day “Toledo water crisis.”

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