About Stefania Czech
Stefania Czech is a single mother, artist, activist, and passionate environmentalist from Toledo.
My name is Stefania and I grew up in Toledo. I attend Owens Community College for Environmental Science and have two children, 16 and 7. I’m passionate about music, environmental issues, and activism. I have been petitioning for Toledoan’s for Safe Water over a year and spreading the word to get the Lake Erie Bill of Rights on the ballot.
Visiting and enjoying recreation on the different Great Lakes was always the highlight for my summers. While growing up in Toledo Ohio, Lake Erie became the Great Lake I frequented the most. For me it was normal to swim in brown water among dead fish floating by or having broken mussel shells stab into your feet because they have washed up so thick on the beach that you cannot avoid them. I spent much of my summer months in and on Lake Erie. It was not until I was older when swimming and beaching on Lake Superior and Lake Huron, did I start to really see the differences between the lakes and just how dirty Lake Erie really was. Lake Superior and Huron were so clean. When you step into the water you can still see your toes and see the rocky sandy bottom, the water is so clear it looked drinkable unlike Lake Erie. I didn’t think much of it as a child. I just got used to the drill of my showering off after swimming in Lake Erie. I loved my lake and I loved being on or near the water.
Now that I have children of my own I want them to love and have a relationship with Lake Erie. We love visiting the parks around the lake and walking the beach. Walking the beach is still difficult and dangerous on the feet given the continued invasive mussel problem. Swimming is now out of the picture knowing how many CAFO’s or concentrated animal feed operations waste drain off fields out to Lake Erie, which also feed the algae blooms. There are often beach closures due to high e.coli or bacteria found in the water. Swimming in Lake Erie is not safe and not worth the risk to my children anymore.
In 2014, Toledo’s drinking water was contaminated by high levels of microcystin from that year’s algae bloom. Consumable water was scarce everywhere, I remember seeing cases of water at stores go for over $30! My family had to travel into southern Ohio to find clean water to drink, then wait in a three-hour line while the U.S. National Guard trucked in potable water. It was a nightmare with a 12 and 2-year-old. The horror of having to check my skin and my kids skin for rashes! I remember pouring the water in a glass and sniffing at it and it smelt funny make a strong moldy fungus smell. There are still no guarantees that our water will not become contaminated again. Much of the solution is to dump more chemicals like alum and chlorine into the drinking water. Myself and others that I know are highly sensitive to these chemicals. This is not a solution but a band aid. What we need is a solution!
Lake Erie needs to be protected from further damage and be given the chance to heal. Lake Erie has that right! The Lake Erie Bill of Rights is the solution to heal and protect Lake Erie for itself, us, and future generations.
Love from my family to yours ~ Stefania Czech 8/16/18