State Senators Bob Peterson (R–Washington Court House) and Randy Gardner (R–Bowling Green) today introduced Senate Bill 1, which seeks to ramp up the state’s efforts to fight toxic algae and support clean drinking water.
The legislation would establish the Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response under the direction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The new department would work with local governments and water treatment plants to coordinate support for Lake Erie and inland lakes with other state agencies.
The new effort would also update provisions to support agriculture’s role in working to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie and inland lakes.
“Ohio’s algae problem has been growing in severity over the past several years and we need to start bringing all the parties together and work together on a comprehensive solution,” said Peterson. “This bill will do just that so we can all be a part of preserving Ohio’s waterways.”
The bill calls for the new Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response to coordinate responsibilities with the departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Health and must consult with local governments and water treatment plant operators.   The office must monitor water intakes and conduct in-lake testing for toxic algae in addition to providing support for testing, treatment and training for personnel at drinking water and wastewater plants.
The bill also provides an update in Ohio’s Healthy Lake Erie Fund, which has provided money for monitoring the tributaries feeding into Lake Erie and grants for conservation measures to assist farmers in best management practices.
Among the key provisions in the bill in addition to the new Office of Harmful Algae and Management Response and the Healthy Lake Erie Fund update are:

  • Prohibition on applying manure and commercial fertilizer on frozen or saturated ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin.
  • The goal of ending open-lake dumping of dredge materials in the lake in five years.
  • Phosphorus monitoring of wastewater plants.
  • The transfer of the Agriculture Pollution Abatement Program from the ODNR to the department of Agriculture.

The legislation received its first hearing in the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture Tuesday morning.
The bill was introduced as an emergency measure to allow the initiative to become immediately effective with the Governor’s signature. 

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