OREGON, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) in Oregon today to announce more than $8.6 million in new federal resources to address and prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie.

“This summer’s water crisis underscores the need to approach the issue of harmful algae blooms at all levels – local, state, and federal,” Brown said. “And while local experts and community leaders are guiding our response, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding will play a critical role in reducing phosphorus runoff and giving farmers, producers, and stakeholders the tools they need to meet the challenges ahead. While we know this issue isn’t going to improve unless we act together, today’s announcement of additional federal funding is an important step in making progress.”

The grants are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and will be split among Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, with Ohio awarded the largest share at $7.4 million. Specifically, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will receive $5.9 million and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will receive more than $1.5 million.

The grants will be used to:

  • Expand monitoring and forecasting to help drinking water treatment plant operators and beach managers minimize health impacts associated with HABs;
  • Provide more incentives for farmers in western Lake Erie watersheds to reduce phosphorus runoff that contributes to HABs; and
  • Improve measurement of phosphorus loads in Lake Erie tributaries.

Brown is committed to ensuring that all Ohioans have access to clean, safe, and affordable water. Since the ban on drinking water in Toledo this summer, Brown has helped secure $15 million in federal funding to improve water quality, help reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent pollution in the Lake Erie Watershed. 

He is the cosponsor of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), which would protect the Great Lakes—and the millions of jobs they support—from a variety of ecological threats and invasive species like HABs by fully funding the GLRI. The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. 

GLRI funding has helped support the control of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality. In May, Congress passed a critical water infrastructure bill that includes an amendment introduced by Brown that would help prevent the invasion of Asian carp into the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Basins.

Brown also helped establish the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that will provide up to $1.2 billion nationwide for farmers to implement conservation measures, including those that could reduce runoff into Lake Erie. The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative, a partnership among Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, has advanced to the next stage of consideration for a $20 million federal award – $13 million of which would go to Ohio.

Brown has also announced plans to reintroduce the Clean Water Affordability Act, which would direct additional funding to communities in Ohio to eliminate combined sewer overflows, which are a contributing factor in harmful algal blooms. Brown first introduced this legislation with former Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) in 2008 and worked with local officials across Ohio to fine-tune the bill. Brown will reintroduce the bill this fall.