L to R co-chairs for the Lake Erie Caucus: Redfern, Cafaro, Gardner and Dovilla
Members of the Lake Erie Caucus met Friday, August 16, at Maumee Bay State Park to have a public forum about the health of Lake Erie. In attendance were co-chairs of the caucus Mike Dovilla, Capri Cafaro, Randy Gardner and Chris Redfern; other caucus members, representatives from the agricultural and scientific communities, area mayors and city council members and concerned citizens.
“This isn’t government speaking to government,” said Senator Randy Gardner, “its citizens speaking to their elected officials.”
The Lake Erie Caucus is an educational and advocacy caucus, not a legislative being.
“Both sides of the federal aisle are coming together on this issue,” said Senator Gardner. “What we can do as leaders to combat this problem is to touch as many people as we can with this information.”
At the beginning of the forum people could sign up to speak to the members of the caucus. The conference room at the event was packed full with standing room only. Media lined the walls with cameras and equipment; this is still a huge deal to the people of our area.
Oak Harbor resident David Spangler speaking at the Lake Erie Caucus forum.
One of the speakers at the forum was David Spangler, a charter captain from Oak Harbor.
“Carroll Township was affected last year,” said Spangler, “now it’s grown into something even bigger.”
When Carroll Township’s water system was compromised, it was easier to distribute water to the citizens of a township with a population that is just under 2000.
Spangler urged members to look into failing septic systems and to look into making updated management plans and soil testing for farmers. He also encouraged members to look at the satellite images of the lake.
“Not all of the lake is affected. Some of the lake is so crystal clear it makes it hard to fish,” said Spangler. “I would like to end on a positive note, though, the fish are safe to eat.”
In response to what Spangler had said, co-chair Cafaro said that regarding the home and commercial septic regulation, she was “on the case when it comes to this issue.”
Another speaker at the forum was Jack Fisher of the Ohio Farm Bureau. Fisher suggested that a partnership be forged between farmers and consumers.
“There are 6000 farmers in our watershed area,” said Fisher. “These problems are not new to the farm community. Farmers want to work on long and short term solutions; we have formed Healthy Water Ohio. I know today we are concerned about the drinking water, but this involves much more. It is effecting our quality of living.”
“This is a national problem, people are watching how we handle the situation,” said Fisher. “The farm community acknowledges that it is part of the problem, but this is going to take time. This is a long term issue and we want to be park of the solution.”
The open forum was a good way to get information to the community and to the members of the caucus. The next step is the implementation of the information.