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We must act again to protect Lake Erie

A Sept. 15 front-page News article reported that Lake Erie has a growing “dead zone.” Four decades ago, Erie County led the United States in cleanup and reduction of the fertilization of lakes and waterways. A small group of women succeeded in persuading Erie County legislators to take a bold stand and ban phosphates in laundry detergents. In the 1970s, Lake Erie was described as a dying lake. These women, called Housewives to End Pollution, did their homework and researched answers to help the dying lake.

Looking back, it was a brave and environmentally concerned group of legislators who answered their call and voted to ban phosphates in laundry detergents in Erie County. The amazing thing is that shortly after the Erie County ban, phosphates were removed by the manufacturers of all laundry detergents nationwide.

What happened to the lake after the phosphate ban? As reported in The News, within 10 years Lake Erie went from a dying lake to one of the most productive – a “great ecosystem recovery.” Housewives to End Pollution, working with and persuading county legislators to ban phosphates, achieved a significant accomplishment.

Now, four decades later, Lake Erie is reported to be dying again. What is the possibility that Erie County elected officials would consider a ban on fertilization of lawns, mentioned in the article as a way to cut phosphorus runoff? The News article also mentioned winter farming practices and sewage overflows in wet weather as adding greatly to the runoff phosphorus load.

Leona Rockwood

Lake View