Farm Bureau, Environmental Group React To Phosphorus Reduction Plan
By Elizabeth Miller
On Wednesday, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency released a first draft of its plan to reduce phosphorus in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The plan is part of an agreement with Michigan and Ontario in their efforts to reduce phosphorus loading in Lake Erie by 40% by 2025. Michigan released their state plan in January.
Ohio’s Western Lake Erie Basin Collaborative Implementation Plan includes directives for the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency, and 11 other stakeholders. Ohio’s draft includes plans to monitor water quality in priority watersheds and tracking best management practices that have been in place since 2008.
The Ohio EPA also proposed a 2-year Water Quality Milestone for each county and priority watershed in the state. Each Milestone would assess the nutrient reduction process. The Ohio Lake Erie Commission, a coalition of Lake Erie’s stakeholders, will be in charge of monitoring the progress of phosphorus reduction, changing practices if Milestones are not met.
In a statement, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation says it is content with the plan and the fact that it “recognizes the multiple sources of nutrients that must be addressed.” The plan includes a Stewardship Certification for farmers who voluntarily implement best management practices. The Ohio Environmental Council’s Adam Rissien says the plan should include more effective solutions for agriculture.
“Real progress requires policies for widespread adoption of conservation practices and proper applications of fertilizer and manure,” said Rissien in a release from the OEC.
The plan is open for public comment until June 25.