CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced today plans to give farmers $30 million dollars to make changes that will keep fertilizers in fields and out of Ohio’s waterways.
When fertilizers, containing phosphorus, enter rivers and streams and make it into Lake Erie, it acts as plant food for algae in the lake creating massive algal blooms.
The $30 million comes from the governor’s H2Ohio initiative announced in November to protect waterways.
“H2Ohio will provide farm-by-farm support to help farmers minimize phosphorus runoff while increasing profit over the long-run,” DeWine said.
Farmers can apply for the money beginning next month and while limited to 14 counties, the governor is expected to expand the program.
This initial program focuses on the Maumee River Watershed in the Toledo area, which has had its drinking water impacted by the massive algal blooms in recent years.
In a recent survey of large communities who get their drinking water from Lake Erie, treatment plants from Toledo to Cleveland spent an extra $81.2 million testing and treatment because of the blooms.
The eligible counties are: Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, Williams, and Wood.
The money must be used in one of 10 ways which have been scientifically proven to keep fertilizers in fields, which ultimately could help crops as well as algal bloom issues.
"Ohio farmers want to be part of the solution to water quality concerns in our state,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda. “The Ohio Department of Agriculture is excited to work with our partners to help farmers implement these best practices which is a critical first step toward achieving better water quality through H2Ohio.”