Yesterday, directors from three state agencies announced conservation efforts and new funding which will assist to protect Lake Erie which is the source of drinking water which is used in the state. David Daniels, Agriculture Department director, Craig Butler of EPA and James Zehringer from ODNR made this announcement from Perrysburg which is not far away from Toledo where scientists had discovered the presence of microcystin in the water supply therefore making it unsafe for consumption.
Because of this, residents were advised against drinking the water. The water was declared safe for drinking some days later; it drew nationwide attention to water quality issues and also called for more action to be taken.
The directors announced a no interest loan to the tune of $150 million for municipal water plants. Out of this amount, $100 will be used to upgrade waste water systems and facilities that can help reduce phosphorous and a wide range of other pollutants.
“The remaining $50 will be given out as interest free loans to improve water plants. The no interest loans will replace the 3% interest on loans which the municipalities were paying before,” said Butler.
Butler and two other directors from Indiana and Michigan met recently together with federal agencies to discuss the local and national concerns of Lake Erie which borders four states and which also receives some of its water from Indiana.
The directors also set aside a sum of $1 million to help public water suppliers to buy the laboratory equipment which they need to test toxins in the water which they supply to the public.
The Ohio state EPA is working towards making sure that all its testing equipment and procedures are approved by the manufacturer of the testing equipment and other bodies.
Uniform testing is an important part of getting similar results across the board and also a basis of determining the next course of action based on the results achieved. Lake Erie supplies water to about 2.6 million people and businesses.
Nutrient reduction funding
The directors also announced an amount of $1.25 million to help fund programs which will assist farmers to implement practices which will help reduce the amount of run-off that occurs in the fields hence reducing the amount of contamination which occurs out there.
The nutrient reduction program will be run through Ohio Clean Lakes Initiative which has been in the forefront of helping to protect more than 40,000 acres in North-west Ohio.
The program mainly targets water drainage structures and the use of cover crops which will help to reduce the speed at which water travels through the fields. These will prevent a lot of phosphorous from reaching water bodies hence causing algae blooms.
“Cover crops assist to hold nutrients in place and also cut down the amount that farmers will need to apply during spring. Controlled drainage structures also help to prevent the occurrence of a run-off while also helping to hold the nutrients in place,” said Zehringer.