Column ties Toledo water crisis to population growth

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, Aug. 13, 2014 -- In light of the water crisis that took place in the city of Toledo, Ohio, last week (see "Toledo water resources contaminated by toxic algae in Lake Erie"), Negative Population Growth (NPG), a national nonprofit membership organization, has released a new column regarding the precarious state of the Great Lakes. Titled "Toledo Today, America Tomorrow: The Link between Population Growth and Microcystin," the piece warns Americans not to casually dismiss the serious threat that overpopulation poses to our nation's water supply.

In the online column (found here), NPG Deputy Director Tracy Canada identifies what Microcystin is -- and exactly how it presents a serious concern for millions of Americans. She noted, "Some species of cyanobacteria, known as 'blue-green algae,' produce toxins called Microcystin. Microcystin-LR, found throughout the Great Lakes, is the most toxic form. It can be fatal to pets or livestock and can cause a number of health problems -- including liver damage -- in humans. So this algae problem is quite serious, and it has direct ties to U.S. population size and growth."

"Climate change produces warmer, wetter weather -- which is ideal for blue-green algae to bloom and produce Microcystin. With an increasing population, we see higher consumption, higher pollution and resulting climate change," said Canada. "Phosphorous and nitrogen -- both major components of agricultural and animal waste runoff -- further encourage algae to bloom. With more people to feed, agricultural activity grows to meet the rising demand and to gain from current high world prices, implementing more nitrogen and phosphorous-rich fertilizers. After the heavy rains associated with climate change, you get more runoff going into the water supply."

Canada continued, "Toledo is just the most recent and dramatic example. For years, environmentalists have been calling for the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous polluting the Great Lakes. Until the laws are changed, problems like the one in Ohio are going to continue." Even with up to 400,000 residents affected by the tap water ban, Toledo isn't the largest city located on the Great Lakes. "Just 60 miles north, the Detroit metro area had a 2010 population of nearly 4.3 million people," said Canada. "The Greater Chicago area off Lake Michigan had almost 9.5 million residents in 2010. Imagine the impact if similar Microcystin situations occur in those areas."

Canada added, "The experts have determined that Toledo's Microcystin levels have returned to normal … for now. Yet the root of this problem -- our nation’s population growth -- has been ignored throughout all of the debate. The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh surface water on earth, and they provide 84 percent of North America's supply. 40 million people rely on them as a source of drinking water. If we continue on our present course, these lakes could become irreversibly contaminated."

See also:

"Toledo water resources contaminated by toxin from algae in Lake Erie"

"NACWA stresses need for solutions addressing water quality challenges"


About NPG

Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level -- far lower than today's. For more information, visit http://www.NPG.org.

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