H2Ohio expanding

Ohio’s water quality improvement program, H2Ohio, is expanding.  Since H2Ohio’s launch in 2019, more than 1.4 million acres in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) have been enrolled in the program, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture projects phosphorus runoff will be reduced by an estimated 317,000 pounds by the end of 2023.

Tracy Intihar, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture says the goal is to enroll 500,000 acres outside of the Western Lake Erie Basin. “It starts with a nutrient management plan,” she says.  “So the program will work with local soil and water districts to get them ready to develop some nutrient management plans with farmers around the state.”

She tells Brownfield producers will be eligible beginning in 2024. “There’s lots of opportunities and we’ll work closely with our local partners to get farmers familiar with the program and get them signed up,” she says.  Producers in the original H2Ohio area are currently eligible to enroll or re-enroll acreage into Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans and other Best Management Practices. 

Intihar says one of the reasons H2Ohio has been so effective is because it is a voluntary, collaborative effort between the state, the local soil and water districts, and farmers. “Farmers want to be a part of the solution,” he says.  “And by providing incentives for farmers to adopt these conservation practices, all of those factors just become the right combination for a successful program.”

H2Ohio encourages agricultural best management practices, restoring wetlands, and replacing home septic systems to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. 

For more information click HERE.

AUDIO: Tracy Intihar, Ohio Department of Agriculture

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