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Lake Erie water bill signed by Gov. Kasich

In late March, the House of Representatives passed a compromise bill known as Substitute Senate Bill 1 that combines parts of the House and Senate bills addressing water quality that were passed earlier this year. Senators Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and Bob Peterson, R-Sabina sponsored the bill. Governor John Kasich signed the bill today at Maumee Bay State Park. It takes effect in 90 days.

The bill has broad support within agriculture for not only what it does, but also what it does not, include.

“We thank Gov. Kasich for signing Senate Bill 1 today in an ongoing effort to support clean and healthy water in Lake Erie. The Ohio AgriBusiness Association supports the bill because its fertilizer application limits are based on sound agronomics, and because it addresses issues with water treatment plants and the dumping of dredged material in Lake Erie,” said Chris Henney, OABA president and CEO. “We appreciate the governor and the General Assembly’s comprehensive approach to the issue and their willingness to work with, and listen to, the agricultural community through this process.”

The final version of Senate Bill 1 signed today by the governor does the following.

• The bill bans the application of fertilizer and manure: on snow covered or frozen soil; when the top two inches of the soil are saturated from precipitation; in surface application of fertilizer when the weather forecast calls for a 50% or greater chance of precipitation of 1 inch or more in a 12-hour period (a half inch of rain in 24 hours for manure) in the Lake Erie Basin Watershed.

• Exemptions to fertilizer application restrictions include: if injected into the ground; if incorporated within 24 hours; or if applied on a growing crop.

• Fertilizer is defined as nitrogen and phosphorous.

• Violators may face civil penalties of not more than $10,000. The person must be afforded the opportunity for adjudication.

• Medium and small animal feeding operations may apply for an exemption of up to two years if they are unable to meet the new expectations but are working toward compliance. Because the new regulations will require some farms to add costly manure storage facilities, language in the bill was changed to include these exemptions.

• Farms applying manure from a Confined Animal Feeding Operation will be required to have a Livestock Manager Certification or be certified for nutrient application under SB 150. This applies to any farms applying manure from a CAFO statewide.

• Requires the state legislature to review the legislation after three years.

• Bans disposal of dredge material into Lake Erie in Maumee Bay after July 1, 2020 unless authorized by the director of the Ohio EPA.

• New monitoring requirements for water treatment facilities, including certain publicly owned treatment work to begin monthly monitoring of total and dissolved phosphorous by December 1, 2016.

• Requires a publicly owned treatment works that is not subject to a specified phosphorous effluent limit on the bill’s effective date to complete and submit an optimization study that evaluates its ability to reduce phosphorous to that limit.

• In issuing sewage sludge management permits, the director of Ohio EPA may not allow the placement of sludge on frozen ground.

• The bill shifts administration and enforcement of the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to the Ohio Department of Agriculture by July 1. Both ODA and ODNR will be authorized to investigate complaints with regard to possible violations of the prohibitions.

• Creates a coordinator for the Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response as well.

• Shifts the Healthy Lake Erie Fund mission to support conservation measures in the Western Basin as determined by the director of ODNR. The Fund will be used for assistance for soil testing, winter cover crops, edge of field testing, tributary monitoring and animal waste abatement, and for any additional efforts to reduce nutrient runoff.

Materials and comments from the Ohio Soybean Association, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association and Peggy Kirk Hall, Ohio State University Asst. Professor, Agricultural & Resource Law were used for compiling this information.

 

 

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