Events highlight importance of bill

Grand Lake St. Marys is a landmark of the 84th House District, promoting jobs in the area and offering a place that families can visit to fish, boat, and enjoy time together.

Being residents of western Ohio and the Grand Lake St. Marys area, we are all familiar with Algal Blooms, and it is something we have been dealing with for decades.  We are also aware of the successful remediation of Indian Lake, which has seen significant improvement in water quality.  At Grand Lake St. Marys efforts continue to remediate the problems in the lake.  The recent situation with the Toledo water system reminds us why reduction of phosphorous loading in our waterways is, and should continue to be, a focus of Ohio agriculture.

Just as the city of Toledo gets its water from the Maumee Bay/western basin of Lake Erie, the city of Celina in Mercer County receives water from Grand Lake St. Marys.  The harmful toxin that caused problems in Toledo’s water supply, microcystin, is also present in Grand Lake St. Marys and has been an issue for the past four years, yet the fine engineering work of the Celina water purification system to this point has kept that vital water supply available to the public.

As an agricultural community we know the spotlight is on us, and I am proud of the legislation we have passed in Columbus to help Ohio agriculture continue the efforts of reducing phosphorous loading. These efforts need to continue so that we have cleaner waterways in Ohio.  On that same note, there is a lot of information now available that indicates the city of Toledo shares in this blame and they need to take steps to reorganize their water purification and sewage treatment plans.

The federal, state and local governments are all engaged to address these concerns.  Recently Senator Portman led an effort to have a bill passed that will increase funding for research of Harmful Algal Blooms.  I share in the hope that the research will provide new solutions to this problem and help with our remediation efforts at Grand Lake St. Marys.

This new law is the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013. It was introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Bill Nelson of Florida.

Basically the bill allocates money to freshwater locations around the country for the research and prevention of hypoxia. It specifies that $20.5 million will go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over a span of four years. It also develops Comprehensive Research and Action Plans to identify and then prioritize the regions that need research the most. I would encourage the federal government to spend some of those research dollars in western Ohio.

Senator Portman understands the issues affecting our bodies of water in western Ohio and I appreciate his efforts to bring federal attention to this issue.  The research dollars can make an impact in our area.  This is a time when farmers are under the microscope and agriculture needs to continue the important efforts of reducing phosphorous loading. At the same time we need our urban areas to do the same with their sewage treatment plants and improve their water purification systems.  A lot of questions remain for the city of Toledo.

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