U.S. Senator Rob Portman has welcomed the news that the city of Toledo is lifting its water ban. Portman thanked local, state and federal officials for all of their efforts and urged them to continue to collaborate towards determining the cause of the problem and developing measures to prevent this from occurring again.
"Now that the residents of the Toledo region have access to safe and clean drinking water, we must quickly pin-point how these elevated toxin levels occurred and work to ensure this does not happen again," Portman stated. "I will continue to work with all parties to address this problem and to promote legislation - like my bill that combats harmful algae - that protects the health of Lake Erie. I'd like to thank Mayor Collins, Governor Kasich and other officials for their work over the past days as well as those volunteers and private sector companies that generously donated and distributed water. I remain committed to finding long-term solutions to prevent further compromises to our drinking water."
On Sunday, Portman spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region V Response Coordination Center Director Paul Preusse to report on his visit to Toledo over the weekend. Portman also spoke to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to urge them to continue to provide technical assistance as needed.
Saturday, Portman traveled to Toledo to provide assistance to residents and to coordinate efforts with local, state and other federal officials. Portman worked with Toledo Mayor Mike Collins and others on next steps forward and delivered water to Waite High School.
In 2013, the city of Toledo was forced to spend more than $3 million to protect the city's water supply from Lake Erie's harmful algae. Portman has led successful legislative efforts to increase federal involvement and support.
Portman authored the Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (PL 113-124), which was signed into law last month by President Obama. For the first time ever, this legislation ensures federal agencies prioritize monitoring, research and mitigation efforts on harmful algal blooms in fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie.
Last Friday, Portman was in central Ohio to survey the algal bloom situation in Buckeye Lake, which has had algae warnings issued for the fourth consecutive summer. Portman was joined at a roundtable to discuss the issue by Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials, the Ohio Environmental Council, as well as a Molecular HAB Ecologist from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In June, Portman went out on Lake Erie with scientists and other Great Lake activists and saw the Toledo intake valve and was briefed on the microcystin issue and harmful algal blooms as it relates to drinking water. His efforts have resulted in a coalition of stakeholders that include the Ohio Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio State University's Stone Lab, U.S. EPA, NOAA, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.