Gov. Mike DeWine wants to spend $900 million during the next 10 years to protect Lake Erie and other lakes and waterways in Ohio.
As part of his two-year operating budget, the Republican will propose creation of the H2Ohio Fund to pay for water quality projects over the next decade.
“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 written release. “We cannot continue to lurch from water crisis to water crisis.”
DeWine said the money could be used to create more wetlands, which naturally filter out nutrients and sediment; deploy emerging technologies to treat polluted water; support research and data collection; add staff to soil and water conservation districts; and address failing septic systems.
Algae blooms for the past decade have invaded Ohio’s lakes and rivers, turning the waterways to a thick green color, killing fish — and in some case leaving the water toxic to humans.
Farm run off is a big contributor to algae blooms that appear each season in Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys.
In 2014, 500,000 people in the Toledo area couldn’t use their tap water for four days when toxic microcystin got into the public water system.
Some 11 million people in the U.S. and Canada get their drinking water from Lake Erie everyday. Roughly 4.5 million acres of agriculture land drains into the Maumee River watershed, which leads to the lake’s western basin where the blooms are most pronounced.