Lake Erie / Water Quality

Environmentalists sue EPA to designate Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie ‘impaired’

In this Aug. 3, 2014, file photo, an algae bloom covers Lake Erie near the City of Toledo water intake crib about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio (Associated Press file photo).

CLEVELAND — “Advocacy groups are challenging the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to accept Ohio’s assertion that its portion of Lake Erie does not meet the definition of impaired waters.

The Ohio EPA did not include the state’s open waters on a list of impaired waterways when it submitted the list to the U.S. EPA last fall.

The federal EPA approved the list May 17 and both the state and federal agencies’ decisions were met with criticism from environmentalists who say the designation is necessary to curb the encroachment of harmful algal blooms.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center and Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie contends in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that the federal EPA’s decision violates the Clean Water Act. More confounding is that the list of impaired waterways the state of Michigan submitted to the federal EPA included its portion of Lake Erie, and the agency approved Michigan’s list, the suit says.

The lawsuit asks a judge to force the federal EPA to rescind its approval of Ohio’s list and to classify Lake Erie as impaired.”

— Eric Heisig, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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