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State of Ohio Releases Draft Plan to Reduce Nutrients in Lake Erie Basin; Accepting Public Comments Until June 25, 2016
Public comments are being sought on a draft Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement Implementation Plan to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025.
The draft is Ohio’s plan for implementing the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement, which was signed in June 2015 by Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, Michigan and Ontario with a goal of reducing phosphorus loading to Lake Erie by 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. This plan gives Ohio a two-year jump start on U.S. EPA’s and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s deadline to develop a state Domestic Action Plan required under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Action items to be implemented focus on prioritizing and assessing watersheds within the western Lake Erie basin; furthering the use of nutrient best management practices in agriculture and at point source discharges; identifying and fixing failing home septic systems; and improving the coordination of programs and funds being spent in the basin. Since 2011, the State of Ohio has invested more than $2 billion in Ohio’s portion of the Lake Erie Basin for both point source and nonpoint source nutrient reduction and drinking water treatment.
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission will be coordinating the implementation of the plan with Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Each agency will be accountable for implementing their respective areas of authority included in the plan.
The adaptive management process is central to the long-term implementation of the plan. This means that water quality monitoring, sampling and nutrient management practices processes will be developed, evaluated, and adjusted as circumstances change in order to meet the goals of the Collaborative. Verification that implemented programs are working to reduce nutrients from entering the lake will be key over time as the state moves towards its goal.
The plan was developed with input from various stakeholder groups and state agencies and is available at epa.ohio.gov/Portals/33/documents/WLEBCollaborative.pdf and on the respective state agency websites. Public comments on the draft implementation plan should be sent to email@example.com by the close of business on June 25.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.