LUCAS COUNTY, OH – Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, joined by fellow Commissioners Gerken and Contrada, area business, public health, and other civic leaders, announced an alliance with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) on Wednesday morning to advocate for policies to stop harmful algal blooms, ensure safe drinking water, improve the conditions of beaches, protect fish, birds and wildlife and safeguard the region’s economic vitality.
“Clear Water 2” builds on the legacy of a previous generation of Lucas County civic leaders who prioritized water quality. Paul Block Jr., John Willey, Stephen Stranahan, Dr. William Gerome III, Charles Ballad, Thomas Anderson, Carol Bentley, and Ned Skeldon led Clear Water Incorporated for more than a decade beginning in 1966. (See attached historical clips.)
“Clear Water 2” will build the public support needed to tackle today’s critical water quality issues and serve as a resource for policy makers and the general public. Clear Water 2 is an advocacy campaign driven by the best available science, a data collection point and information clearinghouse, and a public outreach and education strategy on harmful algal bloom issues.
National Wildlife Federation has been a local, regional and national leader in preventing the pollution that enters Lake Erie from runoff from mega-farms, confined animal feeding operations, failing human sewage septic tanks, and municipal and private combined waste and stormwater infrastructure. Last month Governor John Kasich’s efforts were critical to reaching a regional accord between Ohio, Michigan and Ontario committing to reducing nutrient pollution to Western Lake Erie by 40%, the amount scientists say is needed to significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of harmful algal blooms. Critical to the implementation of the accord – and reduction of harmful algal blooms – will be identification of sources and amounts of pollution entering the Western Basin of Lake Erie, adoption of Best Management Practices within agriculture, further urban infrastructure investment, wetlands restoration, crop diversification and other voluntary, regulatory and market-based policies.
Tina Skeldon Wozniak echoed her father Ned Skeldon’s statement in the 1960s, “our standard of living, and yes even our survival as a human race, is dependent on clean water. And if we do this in the Maumee River and other river basins in the State of Ohio and other states follow suit, then we will be able to foresee the restoration of the greatest natural resource that this country has— which is the water we consume as individuals, the water that is needed for industrial growth, the water that farmers need for agricultural production, the water that we need for our very existence.”
“National Wildlife Federation is committed to protecting wildlife and clean drinking water in Northwest Ohio and across the country. The stakes couldn’t be higher for the citizens of Lucas County, and the solutions developed here will be applied to the fight for clean water nationwide,” said Frank Szollosi, Manager for Great Lakes Outreach Campaigns for NWF and NWF liaison to Lucas County.
NWF and Lucas County officials will engage experts, advocates, policymakers and the general public via public events, intergovernmental advocacy, communications, social media activity, and conferences, as well as develop strategic allies.
The Lucas County Commissioners have three major clean water initiatives: 1) the Source Water Protection Plan, led by Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak; 2.) the policy and legal framework set forward in the recent report “Moving Forward: Legal Solutions to Lake Erie’s Harmful Algal Blooms,” led by Commissioner Carol Contrada; and 3.) the Regional Water Rate Study, led by Commissioner Pete Gerken.