OH EPA testifies to Congress

WASHINGTON – The conversation about Toledo’s drinking water took a big step forward on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) and the subcommittee on Environment and Economy, holding a hearing to talk about the developments since this summer’s crisis.

“What happened in August, we don’t ever want to have that happen again,” Latta said.

Latta and his colleagues heard testimony from the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA about what they’ve done since harmful algal blooms left 500,000 people without safe water.

“We haven’t let our foot off the gas,” said Craig Butler, Director of the Ohio EPA. “We’ve been working, not just on treatment for water, but a real comprehensive approach.”

Butler said a comprehensive approach means investing in new water-treatment and testing technologies. He says it also means collaborating with local, state and federal governments.

“We can’t do it alone, and, frankly, the issue it too big, the costs are too large for it to be done by any one entity,” he said.

Latta called this hearing the first step in helping Toledo and the state of Ohio establish standards to prevent another water crisis. He said there will likely be some obstacles, but he’s confident everyone can work together to come up with a solution.

“There are very few folks out there that do these types of peer reviews, there are very few people that are qualified for it” he said. “So, it takes time to get to that point, but, you know, they’re going to get there.”

Butler agrees. He said the state of Ohio can work with the federal government and the U.S. EPA, to establish a national standard for safe drinking water. And he said now is the time to get to work.

“We can share services, communities can work together, cities can work together, and our local, state and federal partners can work together,” he said. “But, it’s an investment we have to make.”

Congressman Latta says he’ll take what he heard at the hearing on Wednesday, and work with his colleagues to gather support for federal legislation to improve Ohio’s water quality.

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