Update: Fate of watershed rules still up in the air

The Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission will meet at 10 a.m. Nov. 1, and likely decide whether to designate eight watersheds in northwest Ohio as “distressed.”

While Farm Bureau does not believe the public will have an opportunity to comment, we do want to make members aware of the details if they are interested in attending. The meeting will be held at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E Main Street, Reynoldsburg, in the Bromfield Administration Building.

A special task group of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission met Oct. 25 to discuss an Ohio Department of Agriculture report intended to justify the designation. The task group declined to discuss a previously submitted Ohio Farm Bureau analysis that shows the criteria for declaring a watershed in distress have not been met.

Group Chairman and OSWCC member Fred Cash will prepare a report on the group’s findings that will be presented to the full commission Nov. 1. Ohio State Vice President and CFAES Dean Cathann Kress will assist in preparing that report. At that meeting, the full commission may vote to approve or deny the designation or to conduct further study.

In July, Gov. John Kasich issued an executive order to declare the watersheds to be distressed. The order is subject to approval by the commission. Upon advice from legislators, Farm Bureau, SWCDs and others, the commission chose to defer its decision pending the task group study. If approved, the designation would require 7,000 farmers to create nutrient management plans and restrict nutrient application.