Shared from the 2018-06-13 Sandusky Register eEdition

LAKE ERIE | LAWSUIT

Judge asked to demand action from EPA

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Register photo/ERIN McLAUGHLIN

A small wave rolls onto the Main Street Beach in Vermilion on June 9.

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SANDUSKY

An environmental group asked a federal judge in Toledo to take new steps to protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, two groups that brought on a lawsuit, already have succeeded in forcing the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA to declare that the open waters of western Lake Erie are “impaired,” a designation long sought by environmentalists.

The groups now have filed a new motion asking that U.S. District Judge James Carr order U.S. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to take a further step. They want Carr to tell the U.S. EPA to order Ohio to submit a “Total Maximum Daily Load” or TMDL for western Lake Erie.

A supplemental complaint claims that the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have violated the Clean Water Act by failing to publish a TMDL for western Lake Erie.

The complaint also said a TMDL would provide additional tools to reduce the amount of nutrients feeding harmful algal blooms in the lake.

“A TMDL for Lake Erie is key to actually restoring the water quality of the lake,” the complaint states.

“A TMDL would set a cap on the amount of phosphorus pollution that is driving harmful algal blooms on western Lake Erie, and would allocate that total cap to limit pollution loads from particular sources. The development of such allocations would produce vital information identifying specific ‘hotspot’ regions of phosphorus discharges as targets for ongoing and future federal, state, and local efforts to reduce pollution,” the complaint states.

“A TMDL could include specific allocations to ‘point sources’ that are directly subject to permit requirements and other regulations under the CWA. These would include allocations to concentrated animal feeding operations that are a source of phosphorus pollution in Lake Erie due to manure discharges. Such allocations would serve as a basis for more stringent limits on manure disposal practices and discharges through legally enforceable Clean Water Act permits,” the complaint states.

A spokeswoman for the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Judith Nemes, said it’s possible a ruling could come from Carr in September, although she noted no one can forecast when court action will take place. “No guarantees,” she wrote in an email to the Register.

The Register requested comment from a spokesman for the Chicago regional office of the U.S. EPA. The Register was told U.S. EPA does not comment on pending litigation.

Reach reporter Tom Jackson at jackson@sanduskyregister.com and follow him on Twitter @jacksontom.

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