Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Senate passes bill on sediment dumping rules

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    A crane on a barge dredges Lake Erie near the Toledo shipping channel.

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    Hite

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COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate unanimously approved a bill requiring the state to develop rules for the alternative disposal of sediment dredged from Lake Erie.

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Senate Bill 2, sponsored by state Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay), was requested by Gov. John Kasich’s administration as it prepares for a state ban on open lake dumping of such materials by mid-2020 and works to reduce phosphorous runoff that helps to feed harmful algal blooms like those that threatened Toledo’s drinking water in 2014.

The bill also requires public water treatment facilities to implement funding strategies for the long-term maintenance of their facilities.

“We’ve learned from what happened in Flint,” Mr. Hite said. “That set off an alarm all over the place. We know we’ve had some problems in Ohio, not a lot. But we want to make sure we don’t have any from this moment on.”

The measure has broad support among both businesses and environmental groups and now heads for the House.

Senate Bill 2 would make it a felony for anyone to purposely dispose of dredged material without authorization.

Some 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment is dredged from ports and river mouths at Toledo, Cleveland, and on Lake Erie. The Ohio EPA has estimated that 55 percent of that material is from Toledo Harbor, enough to have 114,750 dump trucks lined up for 625 miles to carry it away.

Any state-imposed ban as of July 1, 2020 on sediment dumping in the open lake will require the cooperation of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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