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Environmental groups file intent to sue EPA over Lake Erie water report

Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.

Several environmental groups have filed a notice threatening to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if it doesn't take action to clean up Lake Erie.

report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality published this November says Lake Erie is "impaired" because of its toxic algal blooms.

Sandy Binh is the executive director of the Lake Erie Foundation, one of the conservation groups who filed the notice. She says the algae blooms in Lake Erie can produce microcystin, a toxin that makes it dangerous to even swim in the lake.

"The algae is a major problem," Binh said. "(It) needs to be reduced at its sources or Lake Erie is at risk."

According to Binh, the federal Clean Water Act requires the EPA to review and issue a ruling on water quality within 30 days of reports being published.

Binh says the EPA has not yet issued a ruling on the status of the water in Lake Erie's western basin. 

"So all of us are saying, 'EPA do your job,'" Binh said. "This is very important to the lake."

The intent to sue notice also includes representatives from the National Wildlife Federation, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Alliance for the Great Lakes and other groups.

Binh says the groups will go forward with a lawsuit if the EPA doesn't issue a ruling in the next 60 days.

The EPA could not be reached for comment.

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