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The Student Prints

The Student Prints

Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Wait, lakes have rights? Well, Lake Erie does now – all thanks to a group of activists from Toledo. The group Toledoans for Safe Water assembled after the 2014 water crisis.

In August 2014, toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie shut down Toledo’s water supply for two days, leaving thousands without water.

These algal blooms are a result of eutrophication, an excess amount of nutrients such as phosphorus in a body of water. It can be very harmful to the animals who inhabit these waters because the rapidly growing plant life uses a lot of oxygen, leaving little to none for the animals to live off of.

Lake Erie’s algal bloom problem, like most, was caused by runoff pollution. Runoff pollution happens when it rains or snows. As the water runs off the roads, lawns, fields, and other surfaces then debris, chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers, and other pollutants are collected. It eventually ends up in bodies of water like lakes, streams, and oceans.

The Toledoans for Safe Water worked with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to draft the amendment which guarantees Lake Erie a bill of rights. At first, the Board of Elections vetoed the amendment from being on a ballot because they said it was unenforceable. The group sued and the decision was overturned.

On February 26, a special election was held for voters to decide on the Lake Erie amendment and whether or not to keep the jail in Downtown Toledo. Both legislation passed.

However, Lake Erie’s bill of rights amendment is already being taken to court by Drewes Farms with backing from the Ohio Farm Bureau. Drewes Farms argues that the amendment would stop him from using fertilizer for his crops which would ultimately affect the farm’s success and cause it to suffer.

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