Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Algae blooms on the coast of Toledo.
NASA Glenn Research Center

A federal judge has ruled that the “Lake Erie Bill Of Rights” passed last year by Toledo voters is unconstitutional.

Emily Collins, executive director of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, on the bank of the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh.
Jay Manning / PublicSource

Can you imagine if the Ohio River and its tributaries had legal rights? While speculative, the idea isn’t necessarily far-fetched. This month marks the one-year anniversary of residents in Toledo, Ohio, bestowing Lake Erie with its own bill of rights.

In early July, Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans. From now on, its rivers will be treated as living entities in a court of law. The landmark ruling by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court is meant to protect the world's largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion.

Lake Erie algea
WKSU

In a special election Tuesday, voters in Toledo said yes to a ballot measure that amends the city charter to include a Lake Erie Bill of Rights. With about 8.9 percent turnout of eligible voters, the ordinance won approval with over 61 percent of the vote.