Tougher approach to fighting toxic algae

Gov. John Kasich likely didn’t make many new friends in the ag community when he signed an executive order this week that could eventually lead to increased regulations on fertilizer.

But in calling for certain northwestern Ohio rivers and creeks, including Blanchard River and Eagle Creek, to be labeled “distressed watersheds,” Kasich may have forced the nutrient pollution issue to be dealt with more aggressively — something that has been needed for some time.

Many people, including Kasich, who leaves office at year’s end, have been calling for a tougher approach to fighting toxic algae for several years, but state lawmakers have been slow to act. As a result, the health of Lake Erie continues to suffer.

On the other hand, it may take much more than the governor’s command to move the nutrient pollution needle. The Grand Lake St. Mary’s watershed has been on the distressed list for five years, and nutrient levels there have not significantly dropped.

Kasich was right to light the fire that renews the discussion and forces the hand of lawmakers to take corrective action to reduce nutrient loading in Lake Erie.

Everyone, not just farmers, needs to take ownership of the problem. Being labeled distressed is depressing, but should motivate us to stop the denial and work to find a solution.