COLUMBUS – Today Gov. John R. Kasich and members of his Cabinet announced major new multi-agency initiatives that make available significant resources to local communities and the agriculture community to help further strengthen protections for Lake Erie water quality and local drinking water supplies.
The initiatives were unveiled by the directors of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources at the Kris Swartz Farm in Perrysburg. Highlights include:
· $150 million in zero-interest loans for local water plants: $150 million in no-interest loans for improvements to local drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities, reconfirming a single statewide testing protocol for microcystin approved by the Ohio EPA and US EPA, $1 million for local water systems for testing equipment and training, and testing support from Ohio EPA’s lab for any system that requests it;
· Support for agriculture: $1.25 million for farmers to plant cover crops or install controlled drainage devices that protect against nutrient runoff and help support water quality, and;
· $2 million for research: $2 million to Ohio universities for further research on algal blooms.
“Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s most precious resources and each day millions turn to it for drinking as well as their livelihoods. Ohio has been increasingly aggressive in protecting it and we’re building on those efforts with new resources for those on the front lines of this battle. There’s more work to be one and we’re going to keep pushing forward,” said Kasich.
Over the past four years, Ohio has made significant progress in protecting the lake, including:
· Restricting water amounts that can be pumped out of the Lake Erie watershed;
· Enacting new regulations on fertilizer application to reduce the nutrient runoff that contributes to algal blooms;
· Reducing open-water dumping of Maumee River dredge material and prohibiting open-water dumping of Cuyahoga River dredge material;
· Banning oil and gas production under Lake Erie; and
· Helping combat invasive species via mutual aid agreements with nine other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces.