Earlier this month, I visited Put-in-Bay to tour The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory. I met with Stone Lab scientists and accompanied them as they collected water samples of Lake Erie to better understand the rise in toxic algal blooms.

A high level of phosphorous in the lake is a contributing factor to the algal blooms, and I’ve recently announced funds to help farmers implement conservation practices that reduce phosphorous runoff into the lake. But we must address all contributing sources to algal blooms, including our wastewater systems.

In communities with combined sewer systems – which carry both storm water and raw sewage - every time there are heavy rains, there is a combined sewage overflow (CSO) and untreated waste and storm water is dumped straight into our rivers, creeks, and lakes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 850 billion gallons of untreated waste and stormwater from CSOs are released into rivers, lakes, and streams across the U.S. each year.

There are 73 Ohio communities with out-of-date sewer systems causing CSOs but many towns – and their ratepayers – struggle to fix these systems on their own.

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