Protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms.

An open letter for business sign-on.

Dear Gov. DeWine, Gov. Whitmer and Premier Ford,

On behalf of the Great Lakes Business Network, we support the commitments you have each made for a clean Lake Erie. We ask that you now leverage your individual interests into a regional commitment to work together in addressing the issues facing Lake Erie. A joint statement to work together to take coordinated actions can be a powerful step to generate the momentum needed to restore Lake Erie. A commitment to take results-oriented actions with measurable outcomes will provide a leadership voice for the region that signals we will work together to ensure definitive progress towards the 40% nutrient reduction target.

The Great Lakes Business Network (GLBN) is a coalition of over 120 business leaders who help set the agenda for protecting the health and vitality of the Great Lakes along with the economy, businesses, and communities that depend upon them. As business leaders, we understand the ongoing threat to our heath, environment and economy caused by harmful algal blooms in the Lake Erie basin and we encourage your administrations, as well as federal leaders, to find systematic solutions that are unified, aggressive and measurable. Inaction will only make the problem worse and more costly to solve. We appreciate and support the interest that has been expressed by each administration in making clean water a priority. The GLBN works to protect the Great Lakes and other inland bodies of water to ensure that every person has access to clean water and our Great Lakes economy continues to thrive.

Much is at stake in protecting Lake Erie. In 2011, nearly $71 million in economic benefits were lost because of the harmful algal bloom event in Toledo, Ohio. Annually, the boating recreation economy in Ohio generates $3.5 billion while the total tourism-related economy generates $15 billion, including support for 127,852 jobs and $1.9 billion in taxes. As business leaders, we respect the inherent responsibility to protect the Great Lakes as a vital resource for all. We are held accountable for our bottom line and are required to meet standards and regulations to ensure that we are not compromising critical resources such as the Great Lakes. This same level of accountability and high standards should be required of any sector found to be contributing to this devastating problem. Therefore, to meet the 40% reduction goal, there should be a combination of policy and incentive-based innovative solutions that are measurable and include strong monitoring and accountability.

Cleaning up Lake Erie is a regional and national priority. We encourage you to work together to uphold the regional commitment to restore Lake Erie and accelerate actions to stop harmful algal blooms so that we can protect our drinking water, public health fish and wildlife and economy. We believe your administrations have the opportunity and the responsibility to put forth concrete measures to improve water quality. Additionally, we believe results-oriented programming should align public investment with water quality outcomes. Citizens and businesses can no longer afford to absorb funding programs with no accountable metrics for improvement in Lake Erie water quality. We need metrics to measure outcomes and the willingness for all to take responsibility for actions that affect the Lake.

We look forward to working with your administrations and fellow businesses to protect Lake Erie and our economy. We are excited about the possibilities in forging a new path to clean water.