The plan, issued by the Healthy Water Ohio (HwO) coalition, lists five major topics which, if addressed appropriately, will preserve both water quality and quantity. They are research, public policy, infrastructure, funding and education. The full report is available online.
A key recommendation is to create an Ohio Water Trust. The trust, explains Josh Knights, committee member and executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, “would be an opportunity to not only develop a public/private partnership around funding, but to find new revenue sources that we could apply to the issue of water quality challenges in the state.” Both the HwO coalition and members of the Ohio General Assembly have raised the possibility of a state bond measure as part of the funding strategy.
The Healthy Water Ohio coalition set a new standard for collaboration around a challenging issue. Its 16-member steering committee was drawn from leaders in conservation, business, universities, water suppliers, agriculture, human health and others.
HwO received input from more than 200 individuals and organizations with diversified interests in Ohio water. The coalition hosted dozens of fact finding events and discussion meetings, heard from subject matter experts, engaged with government leaders and collected public input via a statewide survey of more than 1,000 Ohio citizens.
According to Steve Hirsch, president of Ohio Farm Bureau and chairman of the HwO steering committee, “The diversity of viewpoints brought together through Healthy Water Ohio has allowed us to create a comprehensive strategy that will benefit both the economy and quality of life for all Ohioans. This report will be a roadmap for assuring that our water and food production resources are preserved and strengthened. I’m proud that Ohio Farm Bureau initiated this important coalition and am grateful for the valuable contributions of all its members.”
Ohioans and their water
Ohioans consume more than 11 billion gallons of water each day for personal and business use and enjoy more than 60,000 miles of rivers, streams and lake shoreline and more than 125,000 lakes, reservoirs and ponds. The economic impact of business, tourism and other water uses is in the tens of billions of dollars. These valuable resources are at risk from growing personal and business demands, new land uses, changing weather patterns and other social, environmental and political challenges.