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Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Picked To Be Trump's Running Mate

Activists Petition EPA To Enforce Water Standards For Ohio River

The Ohio River near Sewickley, Pa.
Nick Childers
The Ohio River near Sewickley, Pa.

Activists recently petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the Ohio River.

The petition calls for federally mandated numeric water quality standards. Nine groups, led by the Sierra Club, say the standards would reduce the amount of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that are discharged into the Ohio River – chemicals that can cause harmful algal blooms that affect drinking water.

“For decades, EPA's approach to stopping nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms consisted mainly of pressuring the states to do something," attorney Albert Ettinger said in a statement. "The last four years there has not even been that pressure. It's time now for the EPA to take action to reduce pollution harming the Ohio River and its tributaries as well as waters downstream."

Attorney Hank Graddy, chair of the Sierra Club’s Kentucky Water Team, says algal blooms can also harm the economy of cities along the river.

“With the 2019 algae blooms, from an economic point of view, a paddle event in Cincinnati was canceled, and the city of Louisville lost one of the legs of their Ironman competition, which may put in jeopardy the men's competition coming back to Louisville," Graddy said.

Since the Biden administration took office last month, there is renewed hope among environmental groups that increased federal regulation is coming – after years of decreased protections under President Trump.

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.