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Toledo's Troubles: Vivid Example of Why We Need to Act on Climate and Clean Water

Henry Henderson

Posted August 4, 2014

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ODNR photo of algae on Lake Erie

Click here to take actionThe troubles in Toledo this weekend might seem the stuff of science fiction (as an aside, just listen to the stories running on Chicago Public Radio), but the truth is that a major American city, perched along the Great Lakes just went three days without drinking water after pollution poisoned their supply.

Massive algae blooms on Lake Erie have previously and periodically robbed Ohioans of their ability to enjoy the Lake, but robbing Toledo of clean drinking water is a galling escalation. We can’t just boil our way out of this (in fact, boiling water poisoned by blue-green algae toxins just concentrate the poison!). There is no single, simple fix to the multifaceted problems causing the green slimy mess—but most of the contributors are preventable: 

There are very real decisions that need to be made NOW about policies and practices that will help avoid this sorry situation from increasing in Ohio, and becoming totally commonplace in America.

Toledo's troubles make it vividly clear that as a nation, we need to address water pollution and carbon emissions. Policies to achieve these goals are being proposed and advanced now, and the situation in Toledo shows how critical it is that we embrace them. 

Our nation needs the “Clean Power Plan” (which would slash emissions from our nation’s largest carbon pollution sources), and the “Clean Water Protection Rule”clarifications to the Clean Water Act (which would return anti-pollution protections to wetlands, streams and headwaters that flow into bigger bodies of water) to ensure we put people before polluters. Otherwise, Toledo’s troubles are likely be more common, in Ohio, around the Great Lakes and all over the nation.


Lake Erie algae photo courtesy of Ohio DNR via Flickr

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ClaudiaAug 6 2014 11:11 AM

In 2012 we were struggling through a drought. In addition to that our State depends on deer hunting and we lost thousands of deer to disease called blue tongue. The surviving deer that were sick, started running fevers and on the search for water they drank anything they could find, even our dugout or pond which at this point had dried to a puddle. The little water remaining was so polluted with concentrated chemicals from crop field runoff over the years and it eventually killed what remained of the deer heard in several counties. The algea was present in many ponds and lakes and poisoned the water making animals sicker than they already were and finished them off with the toxins from chemicals to grow corn and soybeans. Water shortages in addition to pollution will do more damage than anyone will be able to fix

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