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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved Ohio’s TMDL plan to reduce the amount of phosphorus flowing from the Maumee River into Lake Erie’s western basin. The plan establishes a total maximum daily load for phosphorus for the Maumee River Watershed, with the aim to protect water quality in the western basin and support important uses like drinking water and recreation.
“Ohio Farm Bureau has never believed that a TMDL is the right path for implementing timely, effective solutions for environmental challenges,” said Jack Irvin, vice president of public policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. “For decades, row crop farmers and livestock producers, their organizations and government agencies have collaborated to find more appropriate, practical solutions for clean water throughout Ohio. The results of those efforts, including the H2Ohio initiative and farmers’ participation in federal, state and private conservation programs, have been acknowledged by EPA through this TMDL, which should send a clear message that we are on the right track to ensuring a higher level of water quality for all Ohioans.”
From the onset of the development process, Ohio Farm Bureau has been heavily involved, providing comments as early drafts were released and throughout the public comment process.
Although the organization didn’t support a TMDL, the final plan also has drawn the ire of anti-agriculture groups.
“The fact that Ohio agriculture is making progress on the water quality front is simply difficult to comprehend for those who argue farmers aren’t doing anything to improve nutrient management,” Irvin said. “With their main argument being depleted, there is sure to be some pushback as the TMDL moves forward.”
As pledged by Regional Administrator Debra Shore, EPA will employ the following additional tools:
- Deploying Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to support research and projects to decrease nutrient loading to the Maumee River Watershed.
- Working with the Western Lake Erie Partnership in a new role as one of three agency chairs to engage all sectors in collaborative problem-solving.
- Supporting a broader interagency approach with Ohio EPA, Ohio agriculture, Ohio DNR, and the states of Indiana and Michigan to expand and coordinate efforts to address Harmful Algal Blooms in the western basin of Lake Erie.
EPA’s decision and supporting documentation are available online.
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