LEIPSIC — More than 300 Putnam and Henry County farmers attended a water quality plan meeting Thursday night in Leipsic termed H2Ohio.
The plan’s goal is to reduce harmful algai blooms, improve watershed infrastructure and prevent lead contamination.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in November unveiled the program stating the state has a moral obligation to preserve and protect natural resources.
The plan is to invest in targeted solutions to help reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent algal blooms through increased implementation of agricultural best practices and the creation of wetlands; improve water infrastructure; replace failing home septic systems and prevent lead contamination in high-risk daycare centers and schools.
Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative will work with the H2Ohio program to ensure funds get to farmers who demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement through the implementation of science-based practices.
Terry Mescher, H20 Ohio program director, discussed best management practices and incentive payments.
“We are trying to focus on better nutrient management and also a reduction in erosion,” Mescher said.
The practices include voluntary nutrient management, variable rate and subsurface phosphorus, manure incorporation, conservation crop rotation of small grains and forages, overwintering cover crops and drainage water management.
The Ohio General Assembly invested $172 million in the plan in July, and since then, the program’s experts have developed long-term, cost-effective and permanent water quality solutions.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, H2Ohio will fund investments in 10 scientifically proven interventions to reduce nutrient runoff from agriculture, which is the primary cause for algal blooms.
“H2Ohio will provide farm-by-farm support to help farmers minimize phosphorus runoff while increasing profit over the long-run,” Governor DeWine added.
The following counties were eligible to apply for funds at their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts starting on Feb. 1: Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams and Wood.
State Representative Craig S. Riedel (R-Defiance) applauds the initiative to support local farmers and minimize the phosphorus runoff in Ohio’s waterways. The support comes through $30 million in H2Ohio funding to be made available to farmers in Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Auglaize counties, along with 10 other counties in Northwest Ohio.
“Farmers in the 82nd House District and Northwest Ohio deserve this support now more than ever and I’m very excited to see how the Governor’s initiative will benefit our communities,” Rep. Riedel said. “Our farmers are working hard day in and day out to provide for us. It’s time they get shown this great support from our state government.”
The Ohio Department of Agriculture, in partnership with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative, have hosted meetings this month to outline the application process, explain the H2Ohio certification process and answer any questions.
The event was sponsored by Putnam and Henry Soil & Water Conservation Districts and Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.