The Law Includes a New Emphasis on Protecting the Great Lakes from Harmful Algal Blooms
Recently, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that President Obama has signed into law his algae legislation, the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013. This legislation, authored by Portman and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) would reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, which was first enacted in 1998 and reauthorized in 2004 and 2008 (16 U.S.C. 1451 note). For over a decade this program has served as the federal government’s research and response framework for harmful algal blooms. Senator Portman negotiated a new Great Lakes section for the program that will ensure federal agencies prioritize monitoring and mitigation efforts on fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie.
Last Saturday, Portman hosted a Lake Erie roundtable discussion at the Meinke Marina in Curtice, Ohio following a fishing trip on Lake Erie. The roundtable was attended by a coalition of conservation leaders, businesses, tourism industry officials, sportsmen and local residents who share Portman’s interest in protecting the Great Lakes.
“This legislation takes critical steps toward protecting Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys from harmful algae that has become an increasing problem for fresh water bodies in our state,” said Portman. “For the first time, we will prioritize the protection of Ohio’s fresh bodies of water, which is critical for our tourism and fishing industries. I’m pleased the President has signed this important bill into law, especially after visiting Lake Erie last weekend and meeting with local stakeholders.”
Just recently, the Ohio EPA issued harmful algae warnings for Buckeye Lake in Columbus. This is the 4th consecutive summer that algae warnings have been issued for Buckeye Lake. $700,000 has been spent by Ohio EPA over the last four years on efforts to reduce algae blooms at Buckeye Lake. In 2013, the city of Toledo was forced to spend $3M to protect the city's water supply from Lake Erie's harmful algae and Columbus spent $723,000 to address an algae outbreak at Hoover Reservoir. It costs the city of Celina $450,000 annually to combat algae in Grand Lakes St. Marys. According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report, U.S. seafood and tourism industries suffer annual losses of $82M due to economic impacts of HABs.
Portman was recently named Vice-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force.
SOURCE: The U.S. Senator Rob Portman