Residents of Toledo are fighting back against water pollution in Lake Erie. Residents in the Ohio town voted on a Lake Erie Bill of Rights to help protect the lake from human waste, a move that has been criticized by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).

The piece of legislation, dubbed LEBOR, basically gives the lake the same rights as humans. If the measure stands up in court, residents will be able to sue individuals and businesses on behalf of the lake. Citizens in Toledo hope this will cut down on water pollution by empowering people to sue anyone who harms the waters of Lake Erie via pollution.

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The measure was passed by an overwhelming majority of residents in Lucas County. Over 61 percent of individuals voted in favor of the new law, while only 38 percent voted against it. Poll numbers indicate that only about 9 percent of eligible voters in the county showed up for the special election.

While the measure may help improve the water quality in Lake Erie, the OFBF openly criticized the proposal. The organization’s director, Joe Cornely, released a statement after the vote and argued that residents are going to be the ones who end up fitting the bill for the upcoming legal battles.

“We were concerned before and remain concerned that farmers, taxpayers and Ohio businesses are now going to spend a lot of time and money fighting legal that eventually are likely to be thrown out of court,” Cornely shared.

The bill of rights measure was originally introduced by activists in 2018, but organizers failed to get it on the ballot. The OFBF claims that outside forces are behind the measure and warn that it opens up too many opportunities for lawsuits, especially against farmers in the area.

LEBOR is the first bill of its kind to be passed in the United States. Shortly after the measured was voted in, conservationists praised Toledo citizens for sticking up for the environment and fighting water pollution at one of the state’s most iconic sites.

Via Ohio’s Country Journal and Vox

Image via NOAA and Counselman Collection