H2Ohio makes strides in improving water quality

      Last week, Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson outlined the progress the Agency has made in the first year of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, which has a goal to provide safe and clean water for Ohioans while ensuring the long-term health of the lakes and waterways.
        Ohio EPA’s H2Ohio approach has been to concentrate on five focus areas that will improve water quality, protect public health, and provide positive change to the lives of Ohioans. These five focus areas are: improving Ohio’s water and wastewater infrastructure, replacing failed home sewage treatment systems, reducing lead exposure in daycare centers, building a stronger stream monitoring network, and researching promising technologies for water quality improvements.
Making a difference
        “Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio plan enabled Ohio EPA to extend available funding to help communities across the state address their water and wastewater needs, home sewage treatment systems, and lead service lines,” said Stevenson. “We have used H2Ohio funding to make a difference in the lives of Ohioans.”
        To help with infrastructure, Ohio EPA awarded a total of $2 million in funding for drinking water infrastructure projects. More than $1.7 million was awarded to health departments in seven Northwest Ohio counties to address failing household sewage systems.
        A total of $1.2 million in H2Ohio funds are addressing the removal and replacement of lead service lines and lead-containing fixtures at childcare facilities in Cincinnati. Federal grant funds are used to conduct the testing, and H2Ohio funds are used to replace lead service lines and fixtures at childcare facilities.
        Ohio EPA used its H2Ohio funds to leverage more than $20 million in federal, state, and local funds.
Algal blooms
        In addition, Ohio EPA issued a request for technologies for the H2Ohio Technology Assessment Program (TAP) to identify technologies that may help address harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lake Erie.  Proposals will be accepted until Jan. 15, 2021.
        H2Ohio relies on science to guide the state in assisting farmers in paying the costs associated with best management practices (BMPs) to keep excess nutrients from running off farm fields. H2Ohio relies on modeling to determine the most cost-effective practices in which to invest. One focus of H2Ohio was to develop a new agriculture program to provide H2Ohio funding to farmers to implement BMPs on their farms. Many of these BMPs have been known for years, and there is a financial risk to farmers in implementing them. H2Ohio targeted the most cost-effective BMPs for farmers in 14 counties in the Maumee River Watershed.
Lake Erie Basin
        The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has 26 wetland projects in progress representing a wide variety of wetland sizes and types getting assistance from H2Ohio.
        The Maumee Bay State Park Wetlands Reconnection Project, 137 acres in the Lake Erie Watershed, the Grassy Island Flow Through Wetland Restoration, 100 acres in the Maumee River Watershed, and Cullen Park Wetland Restoration, 140 acres in the Maumee River Watershed, and the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Wetland Reconnection, 578 acres in the Crane Creek Estuary, are among the local projects.
        In the future, Ohio EPA plans to continue to focus on improving Ohio’s water and wastewater infrastructure, replacing failed home sewage treatment systems, reducing lead exposure, and building a stronger stream monitoring network.
        H2Ohio is a collaborative water quality effort to provide clean and safe water to Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and Ohio Lake Erie Commission each have a significant role in H2Ohio through the natural infrastructure of wetlands, the reduction in nutrient runoff, and increasing access to clean drinking water and quality sewer systems. To learn more, go to h2.ohio.gov
        The H2Ohio Year One Annual Report is available online at: http://h2.ohio.gov/h2ohio-annual-report/.
This article was based on a press release issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency – News Editor Kelly J. Kaczala


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