COLUMBUS— The Senate passed Senate Bill 2 this week, sponsored by Senators Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) and Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), which establishes a statewide watershed planning and management program to coordinate and build upon the shared efforts of state and local partners to improve water quality throughout Ohio.
"A unique collaboration of stakeholders representing agriculture, conservation, environmental, and research communities have worked collectively, on the program outlined in Senate Bill 2, to improve water quality and availability in Ohio," said Peterson.
The groups include; the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, the Ohio Dairy Producers Association, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, the Ohio Pork Council, the Ohio Poultry Association, the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association, the Ohio Soybean Council, the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University and The Nature Conservancy.
Administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the program will help coordinate the many organizations who are working with local watershed professionals on management issues, by providing a watershed planning and management coordinator who will be assigned to a watershed or a combination of watersheds based on their six digit hydrological unit code.
The watershed planning and management coordinators will help to identify sources and areas of water quality impairment, which includes loading of phosphorous, dissolved reactive phosphorous, and nitrogen.
Additionally, watershed planning and management coordinators will help organizations and local governments develop and formulate nine-element plans or their equivalents. These nine-element plans can be developed for projects such as remedying stream flooding or other water quality needs and are mandatory for projects to receive federal funding.
"I believe this program adds one more useful tool in our toolbox to help with water quality in our state," said Peterson.
Senate Bill 2 will now be sent to the Ohio House for further consideration.