Dirt Road Charm

Motherhood, Agriculture, and everything in between

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Toledo Water Crisis....Who's to Blame?

The glorious thing about the internet is that it gives many of those uninformed yet very vocal citizens a way to voice their opinion (insert sarcastic eye roll.)  This past week the city of Toledo was placed on a water ban that also included not being able to boil your water for drinking purposes.  This ban affected 3 counties including abut half a million people.  Yes this is a serious issue.  My problem arises with where the blame is being pointed to.

Lake Erie has a very large algae bloom that has been created from excess nutrients that comes from MULTIPLE sources....do you see that word multiple?  This didn't happen overnight or by just one cause.  When the lakes get lack of rain and warm temps the algae can create a dangerous toxin.  A toxin which reached levels in the city water that became dangerous to consume.

Photo Credit: NOAA/NASA

The past couple days all I have read in headlines is that this algae bloom is because of farmers......its always the farmers fault.  Then reports go on to say that nothing has been done over the years to try to stop this bloom or reverse it.  Well I am calling bullshit.  Excuse my language.  This is what is irritating to me.  The agriculture community especially in NW Ohio has made multiple strides to do our part to decrease and ultimately eliminate excess nutrients getting into rivers and streams that connect to the Lake.

With the help of Ohio Farm Bureau, farmers have made multiple strides over the past years including:

  •   Farmers are using soil tests to avoid applying excessive amounts of fertilizer. One survey showed 82 percent compliance with Ohio State University-approved testing practices.  
  • A pollution reduction project in the Lake Erie Basin reduced phosphorus application by more than 180,000 pounds across 8,653 acres
  • 4,421 farmers attended 163 nutrient and water quality training sessions put on by Ohio State University Extension. 
  • The state’s agribusiness community, working with non-government organizations, universities and government agencies, has developed a third-party certification program for commercial nutrient applicators that will encourage adoption of nutrient stewardship practices. 
  •   Farm organizations and agribusinesses contributed $1 million to match a federal grant that is funding a three-year study to measure nutrient runoff and identify preventative practices.
  •  Farmers are volunteering the use of their crop fields for the installation and evaluation of management practices to help reduce the off-site transport of nutrients.
  • Farmers supported state legislation that will help lead to improved water quality
  • In addition, Ohio Farm Bureau has launched the Healthy Water Ohio initiative to develop a long-range plan that will  sustainably meet current and future water needs while enhancing the economy and quality of life for all Ohioans.
Also, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD), with the support of the Ohio Soybean Council, created the 4R Tomorrow program to educate and promote wise nutrient management to conserve water quality and soil health using the 4R nutrient stewardship principles and conservation practices.*  The 4R's include: 
      • The Right Source
      • At the Right Rate
      • At the Right Time
      • In the Right Place
And they say nothing has been done?.........

So now that we have debunked that statement that farmers are doing nothing and are horrible stewards of the land lets look at some other sources of nutrient excess that are causing this bloom.
  • Residential septic systems- old and deteriorated systems are dumping nutrients into rivers
  • Detroit River- this flows right into Lake Erie including industrial waste and sewage from Detroit....they don't call it the Dirty D for no reason
  • Lawn chemical-the glorious thing about urban city living is that we claim residential hierarchy on who has the best lawn.  With that comes copious amounts of fertilization to keep those lawns nice and green.  Once a rain comes in or over watering all of those nutrients wash right into the storm drains and directly head to the lake.....
  • Heavy Rain-when their is heavy rains the city is allowed a certain percentage of raw sewage to enter the river (that is enticing isn't it)
So instead of pointing your finger one direction lets look at the big picture.

As you can see the Agriculture community has recognized a problem long before this situation occurred and have taken steps to do their part to fix it......what can the rest of you say?

Good Day!

*Information from www.4rtomorrow.org

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about the over fertilization of lawns and lack of soil tests used by our urban cousins as I heard the news, but didn't know about the raw sewage allowed. EWWW!!