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Celebrating the Clean Water Act's Success in Ohio

PHOTO: The Clean Water Act Marks its 42nd anniversary Saturday and there are calls to expand its scope to include smaller streams and wetlands. Photo credit: Cherie Durbin/morguefile.
PHOTO: The Clean Water Act Marks its 42nd anniversary Saturday and there are calls to expand its scope to include smaller streams and wetlands. Photo credit: Cherie Durbin/morguefile.
October 17, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - For over four decades, Clean Water Act protections have helped to maintain the integrity of waterways in Ohio and throughout the country. The legislation marks its 42nd anniversary on Saturday.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) of the Cleveland area says the law is particularly important for Ohio given the Great Lakes is the largest body of fresh water on the continent.

"It contains about 85 percent of the fresh water in the United States, and a quarter of the fresh water in the world," says Kaptur. "It is a precious, precious resource to us, and future generations."

Kaptur says this summer's toxic algae outbreak in Lake Erie that tainted Toledo's drinking water is an unfortunate example of why the Clean Water Act needs to be stronger. The EPA is proposing expanding its protections to include two million miles of smaller streams and millions of acres of wetlands. A public comment period on the proposal ends Nov. 14.

Frank Szollosi, manager for regional outreach with the national Wildlife Federation, says smaller streams and wetlands are a critical part of the ecosystem that keeps pollution from reaching larger waterways.

"These wetlands provide natural filtration to harmful pollutants, including phosphorus and nutrients that get into waterways and fuel such things as harmful algal blooms or close beaches; and also threatens fish and drinking water," says Szollosi.

Dave Spangler, president with the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, says keeping Lake Erie clean is important to the recreational and tourism industry, as well as public health.

"Even if people do not utilize the lake at all, we have over 11 million people that get their drinking water from the lake," says Spangler. "In this day and age, we all expect when we turn on the tap, we can drink the water coming out of it."

Tomorrow, Congresswoman Kaptur is leading an event celebrating the Clean Water Act along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, which was the impetus for the legislation after the river caught on fire in 1969.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH