The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has been awarded a $2 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) program grant from the United State Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to help administer Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative across the Maumee River Watershed.
The grant project will run through October 2024 to support H2Ohio’s long-term work to improve water quality across the Maumee Watershed. After the initial signup period for H2Ohio agriculture best management practices, there was considerable interest from farmers in the 14 counties of the Maumee Watershed with over 1,800 farmers signing up and over 1 million acres of farmland enrolled. With such great interest in the H2Ohio program from farmers, ODA will use the funds to provide more assistance to Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the Maumee River Watershed to implement H2Ohio practices and to track program progress and completed practices. The USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office offered this grant opportunity to support ODA efforts toward meeting Ohio’s commitments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
“Farmer interest in Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative continues to be incredibly strong,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “This grant is key in expanding the reach of these proven conservation programs, offering even more farmers in Northwest Ohio the opportunity to be part of the solution to water quality concerns in our state.”
“The interconnectedness of soil health and water quality in agriculture is complex, yet critical in better understanding and improving the health of the Great Lakes,” said Cheryl Newton, acting U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator. “U.S. EPA remains committed to working with states across the Great Lakes to address water quality issues and looks forward to seeing the results of these initiatives from the state of Ohio.”
Governor DeWine launched H2Ohio in November 2019 as a long-term, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and address lead contamination in Ohio. The initiative is a collaboration involving ODA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Lake Erie Commission and other environmental, agricultural and educational partners. It is the first comprehensive state program that addresses all aspects of water quality.
The GLRI is the largest investment into the Great Lakes in two decades. The GLRI was launched in 2010 as a non-regulatory program to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world, and to provide additional resources to make progress toward the most critical long-term goals for this important ecosystem.