Unfortunately, often times the quickest way to the largest profit is what most interests many corporations. When the people in charge of running these companies are simply out to make the most money as quickly as they can shortcuts tend to be taken at every possible turn. Sometimes this doesn’t really hurt anyone, but other times it can have huge impacts on the local ecosystem, especially and specifically the water supply. This is where the law comes into play- in the United States, for example, there are any number of laws designed with the sole purpose of protecting our natural resources, especially those as precious, and limited, as water.
The current crisis in Northern Ohio, and the Great Lakes Region in general, has many concerned about what protection, if any, is actually being provided to the system through enforcement of environmental regulations. Critics are citing chemical run off from local industries, as well as fertilizer run off, that makes it to the bodies of water in the region for allowing the algae to grow to such large number in the area to inspire such a crisis, which left four hundred thousand Toledo residents without potable tap water for nearly a week, causing a run on stores that sold bottled water and resulting in a state of emergency being declared.
Critics are accusing politicians, especially those within the GOP, of failing to act upon existing regulations that are supposed to give environmental protection initiatives the teeth necessary to ensure the viability of the local ecosystem by allowing as little waste into the area as possible. Although this is not the first time an algae bloom has caused cities local to the region to be unable to consume water from the city system for a time, this is the first time that it has generated attention on a national level, and now local residents are wondering when, and if, their representatives are going to step up to make sure that it does not happen again.
It would not be the first time that a major water disaster caused a revival in protecting bodies of water- perhaps most notorious was the 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River, which ultimately caused the passing of the federal clean water act of 1972. Many in favor of more strenuous regulations hope that the massive algae bloom will garner attention comparable to the burning Cuyahoga River and prompt similar action. While the event has generated a tremendous amount of coverage, we will have to wait and see what change, if any, occurs.