Freshwater Weekly: August 2nd, 2019

Posted on August 2, 2019 by

This week:  Ohio Backslides with New Energy Law + How to Keep Safe as Lake Erie Toxic Algal Bloom Expands + Toxic Chemical Found in Bottled Water Supply + 103-Year-Old Shipwreck Discovered in Lake Superior 


Ohio Backslides with New Energy Law

Last week, Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine signed into law an energy bill that pushes Ohio back to the dark ages.  It does four things: 1) Uses Ohio ratepayers money to bail out two nuclear power plants; 2) Ohio FirstEnergy customers will pay surcharges to bail out two coal plants; 3) Guts Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard, from 12.5% in 2027 to 8.5% by 2026; and 4) Guts energy efficiency standards that required power companies to reduce consumers use by 22% to only 17.5%, a goal that has essentially already been achieved.

A 2017 poll of Ohioans showed that 90% would pay more on their electric bill to support renewable energy and a majority even in coal-intensive areas support energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. Several organizations have mentioned the possibility of a ballot initiative in 2020 to prevent the law from being implemented.

How to Keep Safe as Lake Erie Toxic Algal Bloom Expands

It’s here–the first harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie of 2019. The harmful algal bloom or HAB was confirmed a few weeks ago, but it has grown significantly and stretches from the Detroit River through Maumee Bay.  Harmful algal blooms of cyanobacteria, a type of blue-green algae in Lake Erie produce toxins that pose a major public health risk. Beach closures and warnings to avoid contact with the water are in place, but more needs to be done to ensure drinking water supplies remain safe and communities have plans in place for emergency response.

If you live in the Maumee Bay area here is what you need to know to keep safe from harmful algal blooms:

DO NOT recreate-swim, wade, splash–in water in areas with HABs.
Stay informed about your water supply–regularly check for info such on the City of Toledo’s dashboard.

Toxic Algae Effects on Humans

  • Contact with skin causes rash, hives, or skin blisters (especially on the lips and under swimsuits).

  • Inhalation of water droplets causes runny eyes and nose, a sore throat, asthma-like symptoms, or allergic reactions.

  • Ingestion of the water causes abdominal pain, headache, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, dry cough, diarrhea, blistering around the mouth, pneumonia.

Please visit our partner, Junction Coalition’s website to learn more.

Toxic Chemical PFAS Found in Bottled Water Supply on East Coast

A Massachusetts farm that bottled water from the farm was found by the state of New Hampshire to contain between 120 and 137 parts per trillion.  The EPA unenforceable Health Advisory level, which we believe is far too high, is 70 parts per trillion. The water company sells water under 17 brands, and a health advisory has been issued encouraging vulnerable populations to avoid the water.  Because PFAS are not regulated substances, the water continued to be sold after the problem was found. This instance shows just how important it is for our state and federal governments to step up to the plate to regulate these harmful chemicals.  Stay tuned for future information to encourage our elected officials to regulate these harmful toxins.

103-Year-Old Shipwreck Discovered in Lake Superior 

Lake Superior storms are notoriously volatile. Unfortunately, the S. R. Kirby experienced that volatility while hauling iron ore to Cleveland, Ohio in May 1916 when the weather changed dramatically.  Weather reports from the time show that winds whipped up to 76 mph resulted in a huge wave that ultimately sank the ship in less than one-minute near Eagle Harbor off of the Keweenaw Peninsula.   The remains of the ship were discovered and confirmed by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.

PFAS Test Kits – Test YOUR Water!

Freshwater Future believes everyone has a right to know what is in their drinking water, regardless of what’s in their wallets. We have partnered with the University of Michigan Biological Station and other donors to offer PFAS testing for homes on private wells at reduced rates. You can help make our kits even more accessible by selecting Gift a Kit at check out. We’ll use your donation to send a kit to someone else as part of our “Pay What You Can Program”. Get (or gift) your test kits today!


THANK YOU for helping us raise funds for the Flint Community Water Lab. Our goal of $35,000 is achieved–generating an additional $35,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Thanks to all of you who contributed to this important project to build a community water testing lab for the use of all Flint residents.



© 2021 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.