Photo of water lilies in a pond.
Great Egret Marsh Preserve The preserve’s marshes are part of the West Harbor Basin, a long, narrow pool of Lake Erie backwater that geologists believe was once the channel of the Portage River. © TNC

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The Nature Conservancy Encourages Ohio Senate to Increase Funding for H2Ohio

Ohio House Passes Biennial Budget but Refrains from Supporting Full Funding Proposed for H2Ohio

Today, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB110, the state’s biennial budget.

The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:

“The Nature Conservancy is encouraged to see the House of Representatives take action to protect and preserve lands and waters across Ohio by maintaining partial funding for H2Ohio through House Bill 110, the state’s biennial budget. We feel strongly, however, that the full funding amounts initially proposed by Governor DeWine are critically needed and should be reinstated.

Ohioans continue to rely on our treasured natural areas to relax, exercise and recreate. According to research conducted by Google, visits to parks, preserves, and other natural sites in Ohio increased 139% between March 2020 and March 2021. The H2Ohio funding levels in this budget for the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture largely reflect the critical importance of protecting Ohio’s natural areas and waters now and for the future.

We are deeply disappointed to see the House cut $72 million from the Governor’s proposed funding for the EPA’s H2Ohio projects. Not only will these cuts to the program impede H2Ohio’s progress in improving our water quality, they will prolong the use of dangerous lead pipes that lead to daycares, and failing septic systems that pollute ground and surface waters. H2Ohio was designed with three “buckets” of funding: natural infrastructure improvements, agricultural initiatives, and community water projects. Like three legs of a stool, they are meant to work together to improve water quality for Ohioans no matter where they live—whether that be the city or the country, from the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River. This decision would harm thousands of Ohioans by forcing them to continue to rely on unsafe drinking water and wastewater systems.

We call on the Senate to return to the Governor’s proposed funding levels for H2Ohio. The General Assembly must recognize that all Ohioans are depending on them to improve our water—that requires adequate investment in all three areas of this transformative program.”

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 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, 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.