Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released the following statement on toxin samples forcing a do not drink water advisory in the Toledo area:
"The immediate issue is to ensure residents in the Toledo area have access to drinking water that is clean and safe. I have asked NOAA and the U.S. EPA to work closely with state and local officials on this current situation and to provide any assistance that may be requested."
Portman called Toledo Mayor Mike Collins this morning and stands ready to help in any way possible. He will travel to Toledo this afternoon to offer assistance to local residents and to meet with city officials.
In 2013, the city of Toledo was forced to spend $3 million to protect the city's water supply from Lake Erie's harmful algae. Portman has led successful legislative efforts to increase federal involvement and support.
Portman authored the Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 (PL 113-124), which was signed into law last month by President Obama. For the first time ever, this legislation ensures federal agencies prioritize monitoring and mitigation efforts on harmful algal blooms in fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie.
Just yesterday, Portman was in central Ohio to survey the algal bloom situation in Buckeye Lake, which has had algae warnings issued for the fourth consecutive summer. Portman was joined at a roundtable to discuss the issue by Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials, the Ohio Environmental Council, as well as a Molecular HAB Ecologist from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In June, Portman went out on Lake Erie with scientists and other Great Lake activists and saw the Toledo intake valve and was briefed on the microcystin issue and harmful algal blooms as it relates to drinking water. His efforts have resulted in a coalition of stakeholders that include the Ohio Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio State University's Stone Lab, U.S. EPA, NOAA, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.
Portman was recently named Vice-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force.