(The Center Square) — Lake Erie continues to get healthier and another area is closer to being removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s area of concern.
On Wednesday, Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, State Sen. Matt Dolan and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced from Lake Erie shores a series of accomplishments, including the removal of the last beneficial use impairment at the Ashtabula River Area of Concern.
Also announced was the completion of all management actions at the Black River Area of Concern.
“Some of these waterways, including the Ashtabula River, have faced significant environmental issues for decades,” Obhof, R-Medina, said. “Today’s announcements are a milestone in our efforts to clean up our waterways and to protect and preserve the Great Lakes. I thank Administrator Wheeler and the Trump Administration for making this a priority.
Beneficial use impairments is an EPA designation that means a change happened in the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the Great Lakes system that was enough to cause significant environmental degradation, according to the EPA website.
“I’m grateful that our federal government is recognizing the importance of Lake Erie to both the economy and our environment. Clean Water is critical to our quality of life,” Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, said. “Now, the state and federal partnership plays a significant role in the preservation and cleanup of Lake Erie.”
Since the mid-2000s, the EPA, along with state and other federal partners and industries, have spent more than $67.5 million to clean up contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Ashtabula AOC. With the final impairment lifted, which restricted dredging, Ohio can now move to delist the AOC.
“I’m proud – both as EPA administrator and as an Ohioan – to announce that the Ashtabula River is the first AOC in the state to begin the delisting process,” Wheeler said. “We are within sight of the finish line in terms of returning Ohio’s rivers to health again.”
An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.