Water crisis prompts action from lawmakers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The water crisis in northwest Ohio has state senators and representatives working to strengthen laws regarding clean water in the Buckeye State.

The toxic algae issue in Toledo happened just three weeks before a new law goes into effect in Ohio. The law strengthens one of the possible factors behind the toxic water in that part of the state.

After three days of toxic water in Toledo, the ban has finally been lifted. Mayor Michael Collins even took a drink of the city water, showing his confidence.

The issue behind the hazardous water was green muck, also known as toxic algae. It is an issue state lawmakers have been watching for a while.

Earlier this year, state representatives and senators from the Valley voted in favor of a bill to strengthen laws on agricultural pollution. The bill made its way through the House and Senate and becomes law later this month.

The new requirements focus on chemical fertilizer runoff on farmlands in an effort to stop toxic algae in lakes around the state.

Another reason why state lawmakers have introduced new bills regarding illegal dumping is because of a case in the Valley nearly two years ago. That is when oil and gas company owner Ben Lupo was accused of illegally dumping brine in a creek that went into the Mahoning River.

“The attorney general and the governor came to the Valley, said we needed to have increased penalties,” State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, said.

Even though Schiavoni said the Lupo case did not affect the drinking water in the area, if laws are not in place, it might eventually happen.

Schiavoni said state laws are weaker than federal laws and that is why Ben Lupo is being brought up on federal charges as opposed to state charges. He will be sentenced Tuesday for violating the Clean Water Act.

If passed, Senate Bill 46 will bring state laws in compliance with federal laws.

“We are going to work on it in the fall and hope to get that passed,” Schiavoni said.

A few farming experts talked about the new law going into place later this month. They said they understand the importance of laws to keep water safe, but are afraid that there might eventually be too many regulations if more laws are created.

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