Stranded students rescued by Brown County cooperation 4-H Teen Ambassador Dunning attends SHOT Show Veterans Service Commission invites veterans to seek help with benefits Unemployment rate rises in Brown County Pick a Lollipop, help a dog A season to remember G-Men hit the field for first baseball scrimmage Eastern’s Rigdon, Purdy earn AP SE District Div. III honors New blocking, kicking rules address risk minimization in high school football Judy A Schneider James M Darnell Lawanda R Truesdell Paul E Grisham Arrelous R Rowland Dennis E Stivers David M Daniels Fayetteville man is charged with child porn April 1st Grand Opening for Jacob’s Ladder Resale Boutique in Georgetown Talent Show auditions at Gaslight Theatre Nine indicted by county grand jury Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall visit coming next May to BC Fairgrounds In it to win it! Bronco wrestlers end season on successful note Eastern’s Hopkins finishes 5th in long jump at OATCCC State Indoor Track and Field Meet SBAAC awards academic all-stars, winning teams Marvin D Atkin Beverly S Flatt Jessie M Sanders Leroy Deck Sr Jody A Towler Sherman E Young Kenneth C Burton Varnau’s face second defamation suit Attorney General to visit Georgetown schools Clermont County GOP hosts Wenstrup, DeWine at dinner Fatal car crash in Adams County BC Chamber welcomes new Cricket Wireless store to Mt. Orab Aberdeen Council approves 2017 budget Royce K Zimmerman Lady Warriors advance to Elite 8 SBAAC awards boys basketball all-stars SBAAC girls basketball all-stars take home awards SHAC Winter Sports Awards Banquet set for March 12 Altman claims 170-pound district title Sirkka L Buller Arthur C Schneider Lowell G Neal Virginia M Schirmer Connie S Darling Harold L Purdin Terry E Frye Lucille Schumacher Lady Warriors roll to district finals Broncos take care of business to claim sectional crown G-Men upset MVCA to earn berth sectional finals WBHS JROTC Rifle Team competes at Camp Perry Lady Rockets finish 12-12 Season reaches end for Rockets Eugene D Ring Two indicted on major drug charges Two charged with home invasion Cincinnati airport expanding services, lowering prices in effort to compete Two sentenced in common pleas court Georgetown man hurt in car crash Robert G Miller Linda M Howland Robert E McKinney Mildred J Hodges Farrel L Amiott Patricia Brown Rick L Dye Mary E Nagel Betty Ratliff Broncos claim SBAAC wrestling title Broncos pull ahead for win over G-Men in SBAAC Tourney Ripley boys wrap up regular season with win at Lynchburg Eastern girls are sectional champs Anderson pleads not guilty to battery charge Some county offices to change locations Fayetteville prepares for Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall HealthSource hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Five sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court June Howser Marguerite A Fender Timothy D Harris Jay R Purdy Robin S Godwin Marc A Wachter Chester W Eyre Warriors blast past the G-Men, 61-40 Rockets performing well heading into post-season tournament play Lady Warriors bring home the Gold with perfect 13-0 finish in SHAC Western Brown Junior High wrestling team wraps up successful season Rockets fall victim to ‘Pack’ attack Broncos suffer heartbreaking loss to Mentor Lake Catholic in state quarterfinals Adult Education Center coming to county ‘Senior Playground’ moving forward at Georgetown park Brown County 4-H kicks off another year Eastern Middle School celebrates “Kindness Week” Billie L Shoemaker

An important victory for Ohio’s waterways

Freshwater reserves that provide drinking water to millions of people in Ohio are under threat from toxins carried by the spread of algal blooms creating a serious public health concern. Unfortunately, a lot of Ohioans are already familiar with the health risks these toxins present.

This month is the one year anniversary of the Toledo water crisis when up to 500,000 people were without access to clean drinking water after a harmful algal bloom entered the area’s water treatment plant. I met with many of those who were personally affected after I filled my pickup with bottled water and helped pass out bottles to families who couldn’t use their tap water. It was a dire situation that lasted for three long days.

Just last month, experts predicted that this summer Lake Erie is on track to experience one of the most severe toxic algal bloom outbreaks in recent years. Eleven million people rely on Lake Erie for their drinking supplies, including three million in Ohio. Just last week, massive algal blooms were detected in the Western Lake Erie Basin, only a few miles from the city of Toledo’s water supply intake valve. Because of this, Toledo city officials have changed the city’s water quality status from “clear” to “watch,” as small amounts of toxins drifted closer to the intake valve.

And although protecting human health has to be our primary concern, there is an economic impact, as well. Many communities rely on our waterways as critical economic pillars. Lake Erie brought in $1.8 billion in economic activity and $226.3 million in taxes for 2013 alone. Tourism around the lake supports one 1 out of every 4 private sector jobs. I visited Lake Erie last month and hosted a town-hall meeting with local, state, and federal experts to discuss the threats to Lake Erie such as harmful algal blooms and invasive species. I spoke with small business owners, fishing boat captains, and residents and they were concerned about the future of the lake. Fighting harmful algal blooms is necessary to maintaining a healthy environment as well as a strong economy.

Toledo is not the only city in our state dealing with this issue. According to the Ohio EPA, 42 water systems in Ohio are susceptible to harmful algal blooms. The city of Celina spends $450,000 annually to combat algae in Grand Lakes St. Marys, and Columbus was forced to spend $723,000 to mitigate an algae outbreak at Hoover Reservoir in 2013. In fact, all states are at risk, as the frequency and distribution of harmful algal blooms have increased significantly in recent years. Local officials are working hard to solve this problem, and yet newly published images from a NASA satellite detect thick algal blooms across the middle of Lake Erie’s Western Basin.

Fortunately, last week, the Senate passed the Drinking Water Protection Act, a bill I introduced with Senator Sherrod Brown that will help protect Lake Erie and other fresh bodies of water. This important legislation directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and report to Congress a strategic Algal Toxin Risk Assessment and Management Plan within 90 days. This plan is required to evaluate and identify the risk to human health from drinking water contaminated with algal toxins and recommend feasible treatment options, including procedures on how to prevent algal toxins from reaching local water supplies and mitigate any adverse public health effects of algal toxins.

I am very pleased that my legislation, which previously passed by the House of Representatives with the leadership of Congressman Bob Latta, is now on its way to the President’s desk. It is one step towards stopping these toxic algal blooms and the health dangers they represent. I will continue to fight to ensure that all levels of government are committed to fighting this threat.

Rob Portman is a United States Senator from the state of Ohio.

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By Rob Portman

Contributing Columnist

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