Lawsuit targets algal blooms in Lake Erie

By Miranda Willson | 05/02/2024 01:22 PM EDT

Ohio officials want EPA to take action to control pollution that is degrading the lake.

A new report examines pollution in Lake Erie that causes algal blooms like this one.

A new lawsuit targets algal blooms in Lake Erie like the one shown. Tom Archer/NASA

EPA has failed to curb pollution from industrial farms that has caused toxic algal blooms and degraded water supplies in Lake Erie, according to a new lawsuit.

Filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the lawsuit from local officials in the Buckeye State and the Illinois-based Environmental Law & Policy Center is the fourth in recent years concerning water pollution in Lake Erie. The new case seeks to compel EPA to set pollution caps that would control the release of phosphorous from concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

The smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie’s western portion has repeatedly experienced excess algae growth, which can kill fish, render the lake unswimmable and make drinking water unsafe. Federal and state environmental regulators have failed to properly manage industrial agriculture, the main contributor of phosphorous that causes algal blooms, said Pete Gerken, a member of the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.


Algal blooms “are avoidable, they are unnecessary and they are harmful to our city, our county and our economy,” Gerken said during a press conference. “There’s been a failure to act on many levels of government.”