Poor Lake Erie, as if it didn’t have enough challenges to deal with – sewage overflows, invasive species and habitat destruction. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has gotten the green light to dump massive amounts of sediment – as much as 800,000 cubic yards – directly into the Western Basin of the Lake. This practice – so-called “open lake dumping” – harms fish, destroys habitat and encourages slick, stinky algae. The practice undermines efforts to restore the Great Lakes ecology and economy. That’s why leading conservation groups recently challenged the U.S. Army Corps in court.
“Open-lake dumping harms the environment and the economy. It should not go forward,” said Neil Kagan, senior attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, which filed the challenge with Ohio’s Environmental Review Appeals Commission. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a solution that keeps the Port of Toledo open, while protecting Lake Erie and the millions of people who depend on it for drinking water, fishing, recreation, and their way of life. We can do better than this.”
Open lake dumping could have a considerable affect on Lake Erie because it is the warmest, shallowest and most biologically productive of all the Great Lakes. Lake Erie has the most consumable fish than all the other Great Lakes combined and because of this, attracts recreational tourists from around the world which, in turn, sustains thousands of jobs. The lake also provides drinking water to 11 million people.
“We are working to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” said Rick Graham, president of the Ohio division of the Izaak Walton League of America – Ohio Division. “The practice of ‘open lake dumping’ while solving one problem creates too many other problems creating serious impairments that put sport fishery, tourism industry, and public health at risk.”