April 13, 2016: OCF joined with colleagues to voice support for the creation of an HAB coordinator to provide leadership to the many efforts directed towards curbing harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes. Read below the letter below written by Kristy Meyers from the Ohio Environmental Council, signed on to by more than 30 conservation-minded organizations from across the region.
Dear Congressman Ryan:
We write in support of H.R. 1923, your bill requiring the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to appoint a Great Lakes Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator, which is now part of H.R. 223, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015. Thank you for your leadership and for being a champion for our Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie. Currently there are many efforts underway to reduce the number of harmful algal blooms throughout the Great Lakes, such as in Lake Erie, Saginaw and Green Bays, and Fox River.
These efforts, however, are not always coordinated to leverage resources and share vital information. Appointing a coordinator ensures resources are used effectively and efficiently and that federal, state, and local agencies, tribal governments, universities and nongovernmental organizations are working collaboratively to reduce phosphorus flowing into the Great Lakes.
The first step is a coordinator to ensure everyone is working together to address these complex issues. A coordinator could not come quickly enough. Lake Erie is the canary in the coal mine of what is to come for freshwater bodies if the nation does not solve this problem. In 2015, Lake Erie experienced a HAB that stretched from Michigan to well past Cleveland and was the biggest bloom on record. In 2014 and 2013, residents in the Toledo area and Carroll Township, respectively, went without tap water because of the toxins produced by these blooms.
As you know, over 30 million people rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. We must take action now because the longer we wait, the more serious and expensive this problem becomes.
Please let Kristy Meyer with the Ohio Environmental Council know how we can be helpful in seeing this vital piece of legislation become law by contacting her at (614) 487-5842 or KMeyer@theOEC.org.
Heather Taylor Miesle, Executive Director, Ohio Environmental Council
Molly Flanagan, Vice President, Policy, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Carol A. Stepien, Professor of Ecology, Director, Lake Erie Science Center, University of Toledo
George Meyer, Executive Director, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
Sandy Bihn, Executive Director, Lake Erie Waterkeeper, Inc
Jim Stouffer, President, Lake Erie Improvement Association
Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director, Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation
Matt Misicka, President, Ohio Conservation Federation
Paul Pacholski, President, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association
Ray Stewart, President, Ohio Wetland Association
Joy Mulinex, Director of Government Relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy
Robert Stegmier, National Director, Izaak Walton League of America
Josh Knights, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy, Ohio Chapter