OAK HARBOR - 

Two legislators who represent more Lake Erie shoreline than anyone else in the General Assembly, visited Oak Harbor Tuesday to propose enhanced efforts to achieve a healthier Lake Erie.


State Representative Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) and Senator Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) proposed a series of clean water and conservation initiatives that they believe will get Ohio on track to reduce nutrient loading into Lake Erie by 40% by 2025.  The 40% reduction was pledged in the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement signed two years ago between Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, with a 20% reduction by 2020 termed an “aspirational” goal.


Gardner and Arndt presented the Clean Lake 2020 Plan at the Ottawa County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Lake Erie Forum at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds.


 “Ohio has made some progress,” Arndt said, “but we need to do more to accelerate that pace of progress so we can reach our commitment toward a cleaner lake.”


 


      Both Gardner and Arndt acknowledged Ohio EPA’s leadership role in assisting area water treatment plants following the Toledo water crisis of 2014.  In addition, millions of dollars in collaborative algae research at Ohio colleges and universities including Ohio State’s Stone Lab program have been implemented by the Department of Higher Education.  Better tributary monitoring, funded efforts to reduce open lake dumping of dredged materials, fertilizer applicator certification mandates and passage of the Clean Lake Erie Act of 2015 are making a difference.  


“We want to do more – we can do more,” Gardner, the Senate Majority Floor Leader said.  “We want to be a strong partner with the agriculture community and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and EPA to support ideas on which we can all agree.”


The Clean Lake 2020 Plan includes the following provisions:



  • A significant new Clean Lake Capital Fund that may appropriate up to $100 million per year for five years for both Lake Erie algae reduction, and agricultural best practices.  Funding may include establishing facilities to improve manure application processes, projects to reduce open lake disposal of dredged materials, funds to local governments for water quality-based green infrastructure, water management projects to help reduce nutrient and sediment runoff impacting the lake and other strategies.


 



  • A new Soil and Water Support Fund, with some of the funding provided directly to soil and water conservation districts to assist farmers in soil testing, nutrient management plans, installing edge of field drainage devices, encouraging inserting of nutrients (subsurface placement), and agreed to conservation methods that may include riparian buffers, filter strips and cover crops.


“These are not brand new ideas, just a greater sense of urgency to implement them,” Arndt said.  “There appears to be widespread agreement with state officials, environmental and agriculture groups, tourism advocates and business leaders that many of these strategies will make a big difference.”


 


The legislators said the Clean Lake 2020 Plan can serve to make Ohio’s Domestic Action Plan as effective as possible in reaching its goals, as facilitated by the Lake Erie Commission.

 
 
 
  
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