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The Nature Conservancy Supports New Actions to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality

The Nature Conservancy applauds the actions of Governor Kasich and General Assembly to provide additional tools and resources to clean up Lake Erie

On July 11 Governor Kasich issued an executive order and signed SB 299 into law to initiate new action by state agencies, farmers, and their partners to further reduce nutrient runoff in watersheds of Lake Erie’s western basin.

The Conservancy believes these are key steps in curbing harmful algal blooms that are unsafe to both people and nature. The executive order targets watersheds with demonstrated high levels of phosphorus and stipulates that nutrient management plans be established for those areas formally designated as “Watersheds in Distress.”  SB 299 provides additional resources to farmers, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and local partners to comply with existing regulations, to develop effective nutrient management plans, and establishes a framework for an ongoing source of funding. Some of these funds should be used to implement essential conservation practices at the edges and downstream of farm fields. By diverting runoff to small filters and recycling systems at the edge of a field, and by reintroducing small floodplains into drainage ditches, some nutrients would be captured before they are flushed by big rain events into Lake Erie’s tributary waters. 

“We are pleased to see action in those watersheds where the problem is most acute, and agree that nutrient management plans are the best means by which to effectively tailor solutions for individual farms,” said Bill Stanley, Interim State Director and Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “Meaningful stakeholder engagement with environmental, agricultural and other groups will be important during the rule-making process.” 

“SB 299 is complementary, and represents a significant down payment in terms of increased funding for Lake Erie water quality. It is a good start in ensuring nutrient management plans and complementary downstream practices can be implemented successfully,” Stanley said. “We look forward to working with the General Assembly and Administration to prioritize sustained funding over time to enhance our state’s water quality for the benefit of all Ohioans.” 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.