COLUMBUS — Recommendations for water quality management on Ohio’s farms are being reviewed by Gov. John Kasich’s policy staff.
Members of a statewide work group — the Agricultural Nutrients and Water Quality Working Group — submitted 35 pages of recommendations to three of Kasich’s cabinet members Jan. 23, who made their own recommendations to the governor mid February.
The recommendations cover research, education and outreach, regulatory incentives and production practices geared toward reducing and minimizing ag-related water quality issues. Most of the recommendations are framed around the popular “4-R’s” concept — apply the right rate of nutrients at the right time, with the right method, and the right place.
The three directors leading the group — Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer, Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally and then-interim Agriculture Director Tony Forshey, had hoped to submit the document the first of February.
ODA Communications Director Erica Pitchford said there had been some scheduling conflicts, and noted that the new ag director, former State Sen. David Daniels, is still reviewing the recommendations. He was sworn into office Feb. 16.
“The eyes are on it of the people who should be,” said Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson.
Water quality and nutrient runoff was a priority issue for many farm and conservation organizations in 2011, with images of Lake Erie showing increased damage from harmful algal blooms, as dissolved phosphorous and other nutrients made their way into the water.
The work group was comprised of more than 120 farmers, industry experts and researchers. Members gave a consensus approval of new regulations and best practices to help improve agriculture’s impact on water quality.
Nally said at the Jan. 24 meeting, that meetings with municipalities and other sources of water pollution would continue. Those recommendations will be presented to the governor at a later date.
Nichols said the fight against algal blooms and water pollution is “of paramount concern to the governor.”
Nichols expected a decision regarding the recommendations “in the near future,” declining to say whether that would be weeks or months.
“There’s a lot of information in here,” he said. “Our primary concern always is getting the policy right.”