WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 6, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Senate passed legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) to protect Ohio’s drinking water. The Drinking Water Protection Act will direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and report to Congress a strategic Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Plan within 90 days. The Plan will evaluate the risk to human health from drinking water provided by public water systems contaminated with algal toxins and recommend feasible treatment options, including procedures and source water protection practices, to mitigate any adverse public health effects of algal toxins. The bill is now headed to President Obama’s desk to become law.
“Cities and towns across Ohio need to have the best, most up-to date information on how to keep their drinking water safe,” said Brown. “By targeting harmful algal blooms, we can ensure that communities are prepared to deal with threats to their drinking water systems. This legislation is part of our ongoing efforts to clean up and protect Lake Erie for future generations.”
“Last summer, families in Toledo were warned not to drink the tap water in their own homes because it was unsafe. This is something no family should have to go through, and this bill will allow federal agencies to better prepare and prevent future disasters like the one we experienced in Toledo,” said Portman. “By establishing a strategic plan to ward off algae, this is an important victory in our efforts to protect Ohioans and keep our drinking water safe.”
With another large algal bloom in Lake Erie developing this summer, last week, Brown, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to develop a comprehensive strategy to help communities improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). Brown also called on Secretary Vilsack release additional Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding to aid farmers wanting to plant cover crops. Following months of significant rain in portions of the watershed, tens of thousands of acres went unplanted this year. With the additional funding, more farmers can use EQIP funding to plant cover crops, helping reduce potential runoff.
Meghan Dubyak/Tamika Turner