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Ohio county sues EPA over Lake Erie cyanobacteria blooms

An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT
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The lawsuit claims the U.S. EPA isn't taking legally mandatory actions to address cyanobacteria blooms in western Lake Erie

County officials in Ohio are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to address harmful cyanobacteria blooms that have plagued the Toledo area for years. 

The Board of Lucas County Commissioners filed the suit on Thursday. In 2018, Ohio officials added western Lake Erie to its list of "impaired" waters. The 14-page lawsuit says listing western Lake Erie as “impaired” should have led to a plan to limit pollution from phosphorus runoff to address recurring cyanobacteria blooms. Lucas County includes the city of Toledo.

The suit asks a judge to order a comprehensive cleanup strategy known as a Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL. A TMDL would limit phosphorus runoff that contributes to cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie.

The Toledo Blade reports state and federal officials have resisted a TMDL to address Toledo's water problems. But the lawsuit says a TMDL is required by law under the federal Clean Water Act once a waterway is designated as “impaired." The lawsuit accuses the U.S. EPA of ignoring its legal responsibility to administer or oversee a TMDL for western Lake Erie.

Critics say there might be better ways to clean up the lake, because putting a TMDL into effect is a lengthy legal process that can take years.

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