The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently announced Ohio will receive $7.4 million in federal grants to continue successful water quality initiatives already underway and reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding was granted after a meeting between U.S. EPA leaders and the Directors of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and Ohio Department of Agriculture.
· Ohio has committed substantial efforts and resources toward improving water quality including:
· More than $150 million for water treatment plant upgrades, water testing and HAB research
· Mandatory fertilizer application certification for Ohio farmers, with classes starting this month
· Implementation of agricultural best management practices in the Lake Erie Watershed
· Reduction of open lake disposal of dredge material
The additional funding will be administered through the Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative and will target soil testing, the planting of winter cover crops, installation of controlled drainage structures, precision soil testing and fertilizer management, the construction of manure storage and roofed feedlots and expanded tributary monitoring.
ODNR will work with soil and water conservation districts in the Maumee Watershed to connect with farmers and implement the above best management practices. Previous Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative programs have waiting lists of farmers wanting to participate and ODNR anticipates great interest in the enhanced programs. Ohio EPA will initiate the enhanced monitoring to continue to track the effectiveness of these best management practices.
A link to the U.S. EPA release can be found here.