by Tyler Arnold
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants to institute several measures to protect the state’s water sources.
“We have a moral obligation to preserve and protect our natural resources,” DeWine said during a speech late last week at the National Museum of the Great Lakes of Toledo. “My H2Ohio plan is a dedicated, holistic water quality strategy with long-lasting solutions to address the causes of Ohio’s water problems, not just the symptoms.”
The governor’s plan would seek to reduce agricultural phosphorus runoff, which would prevent algae blooms in Ohio’s lakes and rivers that are creating health concerns for people and animals. It would also create wetlands and improve poor septic systems.
The phosphorus runoffs cause a quicker growth in algae and bacteria in some of the state’s water sources, which creates the greenish discoloration on the surface of some water beds known as algal blooms. According to a news release from DeWine, the primary source of this phosphorus is runoff from farms.
Under the plan, Ohio would provide economic incentives for creating a nutrient management plan that would reduce the runoff. The plan would have to include a combination of useful practices, which include soil testing, subsurface nutrient application, manure incorporation and edge-of-field buffers. At this time, DeWine did not suggest pushing any mandates on the farmers.
The phosphorus reduction plan will first target runoff in the Maumee River Watershed and Lake Erie and then later in other parts of the state. The incentives for the initial rollout will be available for the spring plantings of 2020.
The H2Ohio plan will designate a number of additional wetlands in the Maumee River Watershed, but the specific locations will be announced by the Ohio Department of Natural Resource within the next few weeks. This will assist with preventing runoff, but offer other environmental benefits, including slowing down the movement of water and absorbing pollutants.
The plan also will look into poor septic systems in disadvantaged communities and fund infrastructure improvements to ensure quality drinking water. It also will fund infrastructure changes in areas in which day care centers and schools are at risk for lead pollution.
The plan has generally received bipartisan support.
“It is critically important that we protect Lake Erie and Ohio’s other lakes and waterways,” Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said in a statement. “We must be mindful stewards of the environment not just for ourselves, but for our kids and grandkids and future generations. That’s why I am so glad that Governor DeWine, the Senate and the House are focused on working together to protect and preserve our greatest natural resources.”
Some organizations that have come out in favor of H2Ohio include the Ohio Soybean Association, the Ohio Pork Council, the Ohio Poultry Association and the Environmental Defense Fund.
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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.
Photo “Pond” by H2Ohio.