by Erin West

Can you imagine if the Ohio River and its tributaries had legal rights? While speculative, the idea isn’t necessarily far-fetched.

February marks the one-year anniversary of residents in Toledo, Ohio, bestowing Lake Erie with its own bill of rights.

In 2014, Ohio declared a state of emergency after about 110 people fell sick from an algae bloom and about half a million area residents were instructed not to drink tap water for three days. Unhappy with existing state and federal environmental protection, area activists got creative.

Using an emerging legal strategy termed “rights of nature,” they developed a ballot measure to give residents the ability to sue on behalf of Lake Erie, even if they can’t show harm to humans.

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CELDF article on Lake Erie Bill of Rights: In Plain Sight  (photo credit from this article)