Judge to hear arguments in Clean Lake Erie lawsuit


Oral arguments are scheduled Tuesday for Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie’s federal lawsuit seeking to force regulators to declare western Lake Erie “impaired” under the Clean Water Act because of its recurring algae problem.

U.S. District Court Judge James Carr is to begin hearing testimony at 3 p.m. in the case, for which the Environmental Law and Policy Center also is a plaintiff against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“For years now, the Ohio and U.S. EPAs have been playing a shell game, dodging responsibility for cleaning up Lake Erie,” said Mike Ferner, ACLE’s coordinator. “Since Toledo’s water crisis nearly four years ago, nothing has been done to stem the flood of animal waste dumped onto our watershed and pouring into the lake.

“We are simply trying to get the EPA to represent the public, not the Farm Bureau, and do what the Clean Water Act requires,” Mr. Ferner said in a statement.

Judge Carr has indicated he wants to resolve the case by April or May — well in advance of the 2018 algae season.

Microcystin toxin secreted by blue-green algae during a massive Lake Erie bloom prompted the city of Toledo to issue a do-not-use order for its public water supply that was in effect for parts of three days in early August, 2014.

In a Jan. 12, 2018, letter to the Ohio EPA, the federal agency directed state officials to submit new information to support an Oct. 20, 2016, filing in which Ohio did not recommend an impairment designation for Lake Erie. The U.S. EPA letter called Ohio’s filing “incomplete and thus not fully consistent with the requirements” of the Clean Water Act and federal regulations.