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DeWine Says Farmer Participation Key To Improve Water Quality

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) encouraged a large group of farmers to keep participating in the state's water quality program, saying his administration is keeping its eye on a specific indicator to determine if their plan is reducing harmful algal blooms.

In July 2019, the legislature passed a measure that created the H2Ohio collaborative with $172 million in resources and aid. That program was first drafted by DeWine as a long-term investment into water quality efforts.

During an address for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation's "Ag Day," a Statehouse lobbying event, DeWine said the state might not see immediate reductions in algal blooms but there are other ways to measure success.

"As long as we can continue to show that we have more and more acres that're being utilized with best farming practices I think that everyone understands that that is the key to dealing with the algae bloom problem in Lake Erie," said DeWine.

The Ohio Environmental Council says H2Ohio is a major advancement in Ohio's phosphorus reduction goals but says more can be done to accomplish a "science-based, all-of-the-above approach" to improving water quality.

"In the face of climate change, the complexity of Ohio’s harmful algae problems become even more complex and urgent," says Pete Bucher, OEC's managing director of water policy. "We look forward to continuing work with our environmental, agriculture, academic and regulatory partners to support the success of these best management practices and securing clean water for all. "

DeWine originally wanted to set aside $900 million for the fund over the course of 10 years. He has said he hopes lawmakers will continue renewing spending for the program.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.