We, the undersigned, urge you to act now to clean up Lake Erie.
Right now, a layer of slick green algae is forming on Lake Erie. Every year, agricultural runoff pollution causes massive harmful algal blooms to cover parts of the western Lake Erie basin. This year will be no exception.
Five years ago, toxins from an algal bloom got into the drinking water systems of Toledo, Ohio and Pelee Island in Canada. That summer in 2014, more than half a million residents were ordered not to drink or even touch their water. In Toledo, the order lasted nearly three days. In Pelee Island, it was nearly two weeks.
Harmful algal blooms continue to undermine the region's economy and threaten drinking water for millions of people. Little action has been taken to address the runoff pollution that causes them.
No one living in a Great Lakes city should have to anxiously wonder if their tap water is safe to drink. But every summer, that’s the reality for millions of people living along Lake Erie.
We know that runoff from agricultural lands is the main source of pollution causing the blooms. Funding will be a big help in addressing the problem. But for these efforts to be effective, we need real accountability measures to ensure that investments in clean water agricultural practices lead to real clean water outcomes.
Currently, we are not on track to meet the commitment your predecessors made in 2015 to reduce agricultural runoff by 20% next year. But your administrations can still meet the broader goal of reducing agricultural pollution by 40% by 2025.
We urge you to take swift action, make long-sighted investment, and ensure real accountability for both agriculture and government. The health of Lake Erie and the millions who rely on it is at stake.