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DeWine: New H2Ohio Fund Would Provide $900M Over 10 Years

Source: The Hannah Report

A proposed state water quality initiative would create a special H2Ohio Fund to provide approximately $900 million over 10 years, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday.

The H2Ohio initiative, first mentioned during DeWine’s “State of the State” address earlier this month, will be introduced as part of his proposed FY20-21 operating budget, according to the governor’s office.

“Water is vital to everyone, yet communities throughout the state face real and different challenges, such as algae blooms, failing septic tanks, nutrient pollution and threats of lead contamination,” DeWine said in a news release. “We cannot continue to lurch from water crisis to water crisis. I am proposing an H2Ohio initiative that would allow us to invest in targeted, long-term solutions to ensure safe and clean water across the state of Ohio.”

DeWine said the plan does not call for more borrowing.

“Rather than borrowing to pay to fix our water problems, we want to create a special account where we can deposit funds to be used specifically for water quality across Ohio,” DeWine said. “We believe that this is a responsible approach to address a critically important issue.”

H2Ohio funding would be used for water programs benefitting Lake Erie and other bodies of water across the state, according to the governor’s office.

Items funded by H2Ohio would include the following:

- Prevention and land-based management programs such as funding efforts to minimize the introduction of nutrients and other runoff into Ohio waterways, additional staffing at soil and water conservation districts and more aggressive action to address failing septic systems and other water treatment needs across Ohio.

- Water-based restoration programs such as the creation of more wetlands in targeted areas to naturally filter out nutrients and sediment, and utilizing emerging technologies to minimize water quality problems and treat polluted water.

- Science, research and measurement efforts such as supporting ongoing research and data collection to advise on metrics and measurable goals.

- Efforts to stay updated on and utilize new prevention and treatment technologies.

The proposal was praised by both the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) and the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC).

“The governor’s approach to water quality is refreshing for Ohio agriculture,” OFBF Executive Vice President Adam Sharp said. “The H2Ohio initiative and its extensive resources shows an understanding of the complexities that come with this issue. This funding is a great example of how this governor is fully committed to work with farmers throughout the state toward the common goal of clean water. We look forward to working with the administration as the initiative moves forward.”

“Lake Erie is not only a source of water for millions of people, but it provides more than $14 billion in economic benefits for Ohio. It’s future couldn’t be more important,” OEC Action Fund President Heath Taylor-Miesle said. “The H2Ohio Initiative is a prime example of the bold thinking needed to set Lake Erie back on track. I commend Gov. DeWine for this proposal, and encourage folks from both sides of the aisle to work together on solutions that will result in a healthier Lake Erie and safer drinking water for families. We look forward to working with the administration on these efforts, and hope to provide a healthy lake for generations of Ohioans to come.”

Story originally published in The Hannah Report on March 14, 2019.  Copyright 2019 Hannah News Service, Inc.

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