H2Ohio plan endorsed by ag collaboration

Staff Writer

The Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, a collaboration of agricultural, conservation, environmental and research organizations formed early this year to address Ohio’s water quality issues, is endorsing Gov. Mike DeWine’s clean water initiative.
Heather Taylor-Miesle, co-chair of OACI and executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, said the initiative will foster sharing of information among various agencies.
“OACI’s core components of farm-specific planning and certification, along with robust science-based research, will be critical to enhance the understanding of impacts on the state’s waterways and identifying comprehensive solutions to address the complexities of Ohio’s water quality. It is essential that Ohio’s water quality advocates continue to share information across environmental and agricultural communities, collaborate on forward-thinking solutions, and secure long-term investments,” she said.

Scott Higgins, a co-chairman of OACI and chief executive officer of the Ohio Dairy Association, said the clean water initiative will provide a format for growers to implement best practices.
“Ohio’s farmers have long demonstrated their commitment to doing what is right for Ohio’s waterways, and OACI is acutely aware that some farmers need support in implementing water quality best practices. OACI recognizes this is best done through baseline establishment of practices and increased promotion and education within the farm community. There are approximately 75,000 farmers in the state of Ohio, with about 17,000 farmers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin,” he said.
The OACI has been developing a benchmark of agricultural best practices and creating a framework for voluntary certification of Ohio’s farms.
It will establish a baseline of current conservation and nutrient management efforts on farm fields and build farmer participation in a new certification program.

Prevent algal blooms
Gov. DeWine recently unveiled his H2Ohio plan in Toledo to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and prevent lead contamination.
“We have a moral obligation to preserve and protect our natural resources,” Governor DeWine said during a presentation at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in 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.”
He described the plan as an investment in targeted solutions to help reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent algal blooms through increased implementation of agricultural best practices and the creation of wetlands; improve wastewater infrastructure; replace failing home septic systems; and prevent lead contamination in high-risk daycare centers and schools.
The state legislature allocated $172 million for the plan in July.


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