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Higgins calls for action to address toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie


Fri, Jul 28th 2017 05:20 pm
Congressman wants algal bloom coordinator to have adequate resources to protect fresh water supply
Congressman Brian Higgins is pushing for more to be done to address toxic algal blooms that threaten the health of Lake Erie, and is writing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator requesting the harmful algal bloom coordinator be provided with the resources to combat the problem.
This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a bulletin warning of the presence of harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie for the first time this summer. NOAA is forecasting algal blooms this season may be particularly severe, rivaling levels seen in 2014. During that year, Toledo, Ohio, was forced to issue a two-day ban on drinking water, affecting nearly a half-million residents, after a toxin associated with algal blooms was discovered in the water supply.
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, approved by Congress, included a provision requiring the EPA Administrator to designate a harmful algal bloom coordinator. Higgins is calling on the EPA to ensure the coordinator has necessary resources to address the urgent threat to the national fresh water supply.
 Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, stressed the importance of this issue in remarks on the House floor:
"According to national environmental officials, for the first time this year, toxic algal blooms have formed on the shores of Lake Erie," he said. "This toxic accumulation of algal represent a direct threat to the people of Western New York, but they also threaten the surrounding Great Lakes communities, representing 20 percent of the world's fresh water drinking supply.
"In past years, toxic blooms have been so extreme that they infiltrated clean drinking water sources, turning once-clean waters into toxic swamps.
"These hazardous blooms threaten the local economy, which is dependent on fishing, recreation and tourism. Furthermore, they represent a critical danger to wildlife present on Lake Erie.
"At a time when the House is considering defunding environmental efforts, I would remind my colleagues of the tremendous progress we have made since through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to cleanup our Nation's lakes and rivers. This is no time to turn back."

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