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With a new DEQ director in place, the time to act is now

As Lake Erie continues to suffer from toxic algal blooms, Michigan’s leaders need to focus on finding solutions that get the lake back to good health as soon as possible. Following Director Grether’s recent appointment to head the Michigan DEQ, we are working—with your support—to convince her to call for renewed action to address the problems facing our smallest Great Lake.

One critical first step could be made if the State of Michigan calls for heightened protections for Lake Erie under the U.S. Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act was first created in response to environmental disasters like the infamous burning of the Cuyahoga River.

Harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie, August 10, 2015. Credit: NOAA
Harmful algal bloom in western Lake Erie, August 10, 2015. Credit: NOAA

While Lake Erie thankfully isn’t catching fire, large portions of it have turned into a green, toxic sludge.

Under the Clean Water Act of 1972, states must set and enforce limits on pollutants discharged into rivers, lakes and streams to protect drinking water and other recreational uses such as swimming and fishing.

Every two years, the Clean Water Act requires the state of Michigan to release a list of “impaired” waters that require additional protections to uphold people’s ability to drink clean water and recreate (i.e. swim, fish, boat).

Listing Lake Erie as an “impaired” water body would be an encouraging sign of good faith from the DEQ and could help Director Grether build real goodwill with Michiganders.

We will continue to urge the DEQ, and Director Grether, in particular, to start tackling the big issues facing Michigan’s waterways. Due on April 1, 2016, Michigan has not yet submitted its list to the U.S. EPA and, based on its dire state, we think Western Lake Erie more than qualifies as impaired.

If you agree that it is time for action on Lake Erie, add your name to the petition below: