Ohio city votes to give Lake Erie same legal rights as a person

Ohio city votes to give Lake Erie same legal rights as a person
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Voters in Toledo, Ohio, approved the Lake Erie Bill of Rights on Tuesday, granting the body of water the same legal rights as a human being.

The measure was approved during a special election and passed with 61 percent approval, according to the Sandusky Register.

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Under the measure, residents are granted the right to take legal action on behalf of the lake when its right to "flourish and naturally evolve" has been violated.

Supporters of the measure say the law is the first of its kind in the U.S. and will guarantee the body of water protection from significant environmental harm.

Crystal Jankowski, an organizer with Toledoans for Safe Water, said it took years for the grass-roots group to establish the lake's bill of rights and get the measure on the ballot. 

"It was definitely a long, hard struggle to get to this day, but all the hard work and countless volunteer hours by everyone in our local community group has paid off,” she told the Register. 

“We started this more than two years ago and had to overcome election board decisions and protests in court just to get on the ballot,” she continued. 

The legislation was met with its first lawsuit Wednesday morning, according to a local ABC station

Drewes Farms in Custar, Ohio, reportedly filed a lawsuit challenging the voter-approved measure in U.S. District Court, claiming that the measure is unconstitutional and puts the farm at risk of liability if any fertilizer enters the lake’s watershed.

The push to obtain such rights for the lake comes on the heels of the 2014 Toledo water crisis, United Press International reported. Toxic algae blooms in the lake, which were caused by chemical fertilizer runoff from local farms, reportedly became so thick that drinking water from the lake was unsafe.