Ohio officials released a list of recommendations to reduce farm waste that is polluting Lake Erie and causing toxic algae blooms that kill fish and jeopardize the lake’s $10 billion annual tourism industry. A record toxic algae-bloom spread across the western basin of Lake Erie last year, the Columbus Dispatch
Blue-green algae grows in most of Ohio’s lakes, but is thicker in water polluted with phosphorus from fertilizer, manure, and sewage. The algae excretes toxins dangerous to the liver and nerves, which can sicken people and kill animals.
Critics claim state officials know farms are to blame, but they don’t want to mandate changes.
The directors of the state’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Protection agencies said their first recommendation is to promote a program that “encourages farmers to use the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time, and with the right placement.”
The recommendations came after six months of meetings between the state, Lake Erie “stakeholders,” and agriculture industry professionals.
“Ohio’s agricultural community is not being singled out,” Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said, noting there could be other causes for the toxic algae. “With that being said, fertilizer is a contributing source to the problem and that’s why we felt the need to direct the AG communities’ attention to this problem and then take action.”
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