State Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) today announced House Bill (HB) 643, known as the Clean Lake 2020 Plan, a bipartisan effort to fight for a healthier Lake Erie. The Clean Lake 2020 plan would enact a statewide bond issue and work to reduce harmful algal blooms and invest in innovative initiatives to clean up the lake.

"All of us who live, work and play in Ohio have a vested interest in clean water—and it is vital that we confront our challenges to provide each and every person with that life-giving resource,” said Patterson.

The Clean Lake 2020 plan includes $36 million in funding in 2018 to combat harmful algal blooms through conservation practices and other initiatives. Lawmakers also proposed a Clean Water Ohio bond issue that would appropriate $100 million per year for 10 years, if approved by Ohio voters.

"This bipartisan effort offers help for communities to rebuild their water and sewage systems, our agricultural families to enhance conservation practices and our ports to effectively dispose of dredging material that can clog our harbors,” added Patterson. “On so many levels this initiative is the right idea at the right time.”

The Clean Lake 2020 Plan includes the following provisions:

  • Ohio State Sea Grant/Stone Lab: Capital funds of $2.65 million for research lab space and in-lake monitoring equipment consisting of real-time buoys and water-treatment plant monitoring devices.

  • Healthy Lake Erie Initiative: Additional investment of $10 million (on top of the $10 million in the just-passed Capital Appropriations Act) to support projects to reduce open lake disposal of dredged materials into Lake Erie by 2020, as Ohio law requires.

  • Soil & Water Conservation Support Fund: Funding of $3.5 million to support county soil and water conservation districts in the Western Lake Erie Basin for staffing and to assist in soil testing, nutrient management plan development, enhanced filter strips and water management, and other conservation support.

  • Targeted Phosphorus Reduction Fund: Funding of up to $20 million at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Soil & Water Commission, to establish programs to reduce total phosphorus and dissolved reactive phosphorus in sub-watersheds of the Western Lake Erie Basin. Programs may include capital funds for purchasing of equipment for subsurface placement of nutrients into the soil, equipment for nutrient placement based on GIS soil testing and variable rate technology, water management efforts, manure conversion technologies, tributary monitoring, and edge-of-field drainage structures.

The Clean Lake 2020 Plan also includes provisions for wastewater and water treatment plant support, water quality research and water resource management.

Patterson joined HB 643 joint-sponsor state Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) and state Sens. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta), who sponsored companion legislation in the Senate, to meet with Lake Erie-area soil and water conservation leaders, tourism officials, agriculture groups and other interested parties to develop the Clean Lake 2020 plan.

Since Toledo’s water crisis in 2014, the Department of Higher Education has funded collaborative algae research at Ohio colleges and universities in an effort to reduce the effects of harmful algal blooms. In addition, the state has implemented better tributary monitoring, projects to reduce open lake dumping of dredged materials, fertilizer applicator certification mandates and passage of the Clean Lake Erie Act in 2015. Despite these efforts, however, Rep. Patterson and other bill sponsors maintain that more must be done to fully address the issues facing Lake Erie and area residents.

HB 643 is currently pending referral to a House committee, where it will see initial testimony and hearings.

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