State of Ohio Releases Latest Version of Plan to Reduce Nutrients in Lake Erie Basin
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the State of Ohio have completed the Ohio Domestic Action Plan (DAP) 1.0 to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie under the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with a goal of reducing phosphorus loading to Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025. This version of the Ohio DAP is being provided to U.S. EPA for review and comment and to serve as Ohio’s part of the US Domestic Action Plan, the final version of which is due in Feb. 2018.
This Ohio DAP 1.0 is a continuation and expansion of the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaboration Implementation Framework finalized by the State of Ohio in early 2017. This first version uses, and all subsequent versions will use, the adaptive management process, which is central to the long-term implementation of the Ohio DAP. This means that water quality monitoring, sampling and nutrient management practices are being developed, evaluated and adjusted as circumstances change in order to meet the goals of the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Verification that implemented programs are working to reduce nutrients from entering the lake will be needed as the state moves towards its goal. This Plan will change over time as needed to ensure Ohio is focusing on the correct practices to achieve the required nutrient reductions.
The Commission hosted two public meetings on Sept. 12 and 13, 2017, to gather public input on the draft plan. Changes made to the plan based on public comment include in part:
• Expanded the adaptive management process concept and ability of the State to revise the Ohio DAP based on new information and circumstances;
• Added “sentinel watersheds” that will be used in place of priority watersheds to monitor progress;
• Clarified that the Ohio DAP may suggest, not establish, new regulatory or enforceable standards;
• Established a table outlining actions, timelines, lead agency and milestones for various point and nonpoint actions; and
• Tied in Ohio EPA’s Mass Balance Study and clarified the role of TMDLs in achieving nutrient reduction goals.
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission will coordinate updating the Ohio Domestic Action Plan with Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), who each share responsibility for implementing the plan. Each agency is accountable for implementing its respective areas of authority included in the state plan to meet the overall 40 percent reduction.
Since 2011, the State of Ohio has invested $2.5 billion in Ohio’s portion of the Lake Erie Basin for both point source and nonpoint source nutrient reduction and drinking water treatment.
The DAP 1.0 was developed with input from various stakeholder groups and state agencies and is available at lakeerie.ohio.gov/LakeEriePlanning/OhioDomesticActionPlan2018.aspx.
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission was established to preserve Lake Erie’s natural resources, protect the quality of its waters and ecosystem and promote economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) serves as the commission’s chairman. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development Services, Agriculture, Natural Resources and five additional members appointed by Governor John Kasich.