Big Darby Creek

In early August, Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Anne Vogel announced that a comprehensive study of Ohio’s largest rivers shows tremendous improvements in water quality over the past several decades. 

Ohio EPA launched its first-ever comprehensive large rivers study beginning in 2020 to measure changes in water quality since the 1980s and to identify any current issues impacting water health. The study found that water quality has improved tremendously over the years, with 86% of the state’s large rivers in good to excellent condition compared to just 18% in the 1980s.

The report cites investments in agricultural soil conservation measures, improved wastewater infrastructure and improved wastewater treatment as key reasons for the water quality improvements.

“Water is truly one of Ohio’s greatest assets, and we have an obligation to preserve and protect it,” said DeWine. “The health of Ohio’s rivers reflects years of work and investment by our local communities and by Ohio EPA, and we intend to continue working to ensure that our healthy rivers stay healthy and that rivers that still need improvement are restored.” 

Ohio’s new operating budget, which DeWine signed last month, allocates $23.3 million per year to expand the H2Ohio initiative, which DeWine launched in 2019 to focus on preventing algal blooms caused by agricultural nutrient runoff and to improve water infrastructure. The expansion of H2Ohio will create a river restoration program for large river tributaries, address river salinity, remove dams and remediate water impacted by acid mine drainage. 

“This report not only shows the results of what farmers are currently doing to keep their soils healthy and nutrients in place to protect Ohio’s waterways through H2Ohio, it also highlights the efforts that have been done long before the program was an option,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “This data is proof that progress has been made on the water quality front and that Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative and other conservation programs that give farmers opportunities to find new and better nutrient management practices are, and will continue to make a difference in providing clean water for all Ohioans.”

Other notable improvements cited in the Ohio EPA study include:

  • Major reductions in ammonia, total phosphorus, and lead in water chemistry.
  • Downward trends in concentrations of PCBs and in metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic in fish.
  • Steady improvements in the quality and diversity of fish and macroinvertebrate communities.

The Mohican River was the only river to show a significant decline in water quality caused by excessive levels of phosphorus and nutrients from agricultural runoff.

“We are excited to have good news to report about the conditions of our large rivers and streams,” said Vogel. “The additional H2Ohio funding will let us step up these efforts toward getting all our large rivers meeting water quality goals.”

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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