A spike in the number of large-scale animal farms and resulting manure production in the Maumee watershed is contributing to algae blooms in Lake Erie, a new report finds. The authors write that over half of the manure contributing to water pollution comes from farms that don't require permits or regulatory oversight.
Some 169 toxic algal blooms were reported in 40 states in 2017, compared to only three blooms in 2010, says the Environmental Working Group in a report released today that names agricultural runoff as a primary factor. The EWG says farmers should be required to meet basic standards for control of nutrient runoff because voluntary efforts are insufficient.
A day after the Ohio EPA declared the western end of Lake Erie to be an impaired wateryway, agency director Craig Butler said, "The time has come that we can't rely on voluntary programs" to reduce nutrient runoff that feeds algal blooms in the lake, reported Associated Press. To address the problem, the state announced a set of new proposals to reduce runoff from farms and wastewater plants.
A new report by the Organization for Competitive Markets, an agricultural antitrust and trade policy research group, and the Ohio Farmers Union suggests that the relationship between the Ohio beef checkoff program and the state Cattlemen’s Association may be cozier than the law permits. (No paywall)
Environmental groups in Michigan and Ohio filed suit against the EPA, seeking a court order for the agency to decide whether water quality in western Lake Erie is impaired. The designation would lead to pollution regulations aimed at preventing algae blooms, which can be toxic, said the Associated Press.
Cities are creating jobs faster than rural areas with a 13.3 percent growth rate in the past year, compared to 4.8 percent in rural counties, says a Daily Yonder analysis of Labor Department statistics. "Unemployment remains a bigger problem in rural counties than metro areas," says the Yonder, which tried to gauge local conditions in battleground states.
The USDA will invest $41 million over three years to clean up the Western Lake Erie Basin, which supplies water to farmers in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week.
The Ohio House and Senate are expected to vote this week on legislation intended to reduce toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie by reducing farm runoff, says the Associated Press.
Wetlands in the upper Mississippi and Ohio River watersheds can remove up to 1,800 pounds of nitrogen per acre from field runoff, says a USDA study of the economic benefits of wetland conservation.