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Leaders keeping watch on Lake Erie water

For years, environmentalists have warned of the damaging effects of agricultural runoff and sewage overflows into the Great Lakes. The intensity of that warning has increased following last weekend's water crisis near Toledo.

Each year for a long time, the bloom of algae in Lake Erie has been growing larger. It's more obvious in the years since satellite photography could show changes and patterns.

Now, with Toledo residents told for nearly three days not to drink their water, there's attention to the warnings of environmentalists with blue-green algae producing the deadly and untreatable microcystin toxin.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka says spreading blame doesn't accomplish much.

"We've known for years what the sources are to our waterways that are causing these problems. The challenge to us now is we know the problems. We also know the solutions and let's start to direct the funding from the federal and state levels to help out our farmers and help out our agricultural community and make the changes to these wastewater treatment plants," Jedlicka told WBFO.

Solutions can be complicated since farmers need financial help to restore stream banks to keep fertilizer from flowing into rivers and streams. Updating and modernizing sewage treatment plants costs millions.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.