Guest Column From State Representative John Becker
Preserving Safe, Clean Water in Ohio Has Both Environmental and Economic Benefits
February 23, 2015
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The city of Toledo, Ohio is about three-and-a-half hours north of my home in Clermont County, but I’m sure most of us heard about the severe issues the city experienced last summer because of the algae problem in Lake Erie. City residents were forced to travel great distances in order to get clean drinking water for their families. A scary situation, to say the least.

Many Ohioans may not be familiar with the fact that there are bodies of water all over the state that from time to time encounter the same algae problem. Here in Clermont County, I have seen it first-hand while skiing on East Fork Lake. Although Ohio might be located “between the lake and the river,” this is an issue that impacts every water source in between as well.

My colleagues and I in the Ohio House are committed to finding a solution. The House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee has held two regional hearings away from the Statehouse to meet with real folks—from farmers to city-dwellers—to hear their input on how to address the algal blooms.

One piece of legislation currently being considered in that committee is House Bill 61, which relates most closely to Lake Erie. Of course, Lake Erie was ground-zero for this problem last year, but I believe many of the initiatives being pushed in the House can have a positive impact on our entire state. HB 61 specifically aims to strike a balance between maintaining safe, clean water and also ensuring that farmers have the ability to raise healthy crops and livestock that feed us.

Building off parts of a bill we worked on last year, HB 61 includes provisions that would regulate the application of fertilizer on frozen ground near the Lake Erie basin. It would also put in place other nutrient-management practices, establish a phosphorus monitoring process and ban the depositing of dredged material into the lake.

This particular bill will continue being ironed out in committee before coming to a full House vote. Natural water sources like Lake Erie, the Ohio River and East Fork Lake are so vitally important to attracting tourism into our state. For that reason, there are also great economic benefits to keeping these waters clean and safe. I would like to hear from the constituents of the 65th House District about their ideas for preserving Ohio’s natural resources, so that I can share those voices at the Statehouse.

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