Troubled Waters: Make Waves During a Toledo Town Hall on the Great Lakes & Clean Water

. March 8, 2017.
Harmful algae bloom. Pelee Island, Ohio. Lake Erie. Photo by T. Archer. September 4, 2009. NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Harmful algae bloom. Pelee Island, Ohio. Lake Erie. Photo by T. Archer. September 4, 2009. NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

On Thursday, March 9, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will host a Town Hall event on Defending the Great Lakes and Clean Water. Join conservation groups, Lucas County officials and concerned citizens for this important conversation.  

The Town Hall is being held urgently because, like many in the Great Lakes region, Toledoans know that water is worth protecting.

In 2014 water crisis, Lake Erie’s pollution levels were so bad that a toxic algae bloom left 500,000 Toledoans without drinking water. However, this was hardly the first environmental emergency caused by Lake Erie.

In 1969, Lake Erie’s pollutants transformed the Cuyahoga River into the River of Styx; people watched in horror as the body of water carried flames.

cuyahoga-river-fire-e1437775430609

Fortunately, residents of the North Coast know how to respond.

The burning river inspired activism, eventually leading Congress to pass the Clean Water Act in 1972, which tightened regulations on industrial dumping. Later that year, the US and Canada signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in an effort to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the fresh water.

After our 2014 water crisis, an influx of grassroots community groups and concerned citizens have joined ongoing efforts to protect the Great Lakes and fight for clean water. When hazards happen, we try to help. The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater on the planet. It doesn’t just feel good to protect it. It’s necessary for our planet. For a while, it seemed like everyone was on the same page— until things changed.

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has proposed budget cuts that will severely damage the Great Lakes. As part of the Trump administration’s proposal to reduce the agency’s budget by 25 percent, The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is set to be reduced by 97 percent.

This year, The Great Lakes Initiative received $300 million dollars in EPA funding to focus on restoring areas damaged by decades of pollution. Pruitt proposes to allocate only $10 million dollars to the Initiative in the 2018 fiscal year.

Without funding, ongoing projects by The Great Lakes Initiative will be halted, access to clean water will be reduced, local economies will be damaged and progress against harmful algal blooms will be prevented.

Many citizens, local leaders, environmentalists and organizations want to keep these proposals as proposals. Join them in responding to the potential federal budget cuts to the EPA, The Great Lakes Initiative and other departments responsible for ensuring clean water and sustaining the Great Lakes during a Town Hall meeting.

The discussion will detail the potential impact of losing federal funding, how environmental advocated can engage citizens, effective lobbying practices, among other topics.

Represented at the Town Hall:

  • Clear Water 2, a public-private partnership between Lucas County and the National Wildlife Federation, started by Lucas County Commissioner Tina Wozniak in 2015
  • Lucas County Commissioner Tina Wozniak
  • Ohio Environmental Council
  • Other leading conservation groups

Members of the community are encouraged to call their elected officials and invite them to attend or send staff.

  • Senator Rob Portman – 419-259-3895
  • Senator Sherrod Brown – 614-469-2083
  • Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur – 419-259-7500
  • Congressman Bob Latta – 419-354-8700
  • Governor John Kasich – 614-466-3555

For those unable to attend, the event will be available on a livestream. Visit the Facebook event to view.

Town Hall on Defending the Great Lakes & Clean Water
6:30-9:30pm. Thursday, March 9.
National Museum of the Great Lakes,
1701 Front St., 419-214-5000.
Facebook event.