Moving Forward: Legal Solutions to Lake Erie's Harmful Algal Blooms

160 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2015

See all articles by Jack Tuholske

Jack Tuholske

Vermont Law School

Kenneth Kilbert

University of Toledo College of Law

Date Written: April 15, 2015


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been plaguing Lake Erie with increasing frequency and intensity in recent years. The problem reached crisis proportions in August 2014 when nearly half a million persons in the Toledo, Ohio area were left without safe drinking water when a toxin produced by HABs in Lake Erie was detected at elevated levels in the city’s public water supply system. Excess nutrients entering the lake, especially phosphorus from nonpoint sources, are the primary contributors to the HABs problem in Lake Erie.

This report, commissioned by the Commissioners of Lucas County, Ohio, offers legal solutions to Lake Erie’s HABs problem. After providing some scientific background, the report describes the complex web of federal and Ohio laws applicable to key sources of phosphorus pollution, explores legal tools that other regions such as the Chesapeake Bay are using to combat nutrient pollution, and makes recommendations for using and improving the law in Ohio and the region to reduce HABs in Lake Erie. Grant funding opportunities at the federal and state level also are identified.

Keywords: Algae, Lake Erie, Clean Water Act

Suggested Citation

Tuholske, Jack and Kilbert, Kenneth, Moving Forward: Legal Solutions to Lake Erie's Harmful Algal Blooms (April 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Jack Tuholske

Vermont Law School ( email )

68 North Windsor Street
P.O. Box 60
South Royalton, VT 05068
United States

Kenneth Kilbert (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
419-530-5597 (Phone)

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