A New Lake Erie Battle: Lucas County Sues U.S. EPA Over Western Basin Water Quality

By: Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Disagreements over how to improve the health of Lake Erie have led to yet another federal lawsuit in Ohio. This time the plaintiff is the Board of Lucas County Commissioners, who filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against the U.S. EPA. The lawsuit accuses the U.S. EPA of failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act, which the county believes has led to an “alarming” decline in the water quality of western Lake Erie. Continue reading

Ohio Attorney General Yost Asks To Join In The Lake Erie Bill Of Rights Lawsuit

By: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

The Ohio Attorney General filed a motion in the Drewes Farm Partnership v. City of Toledo case seeking to intervene as a plaintiff alongside the Drewes Farm Partnership. The motion argues that the state of Ohio has a significant interest in the protection of Lake Erie, along with a significant interest in supporting Ohio’s agricultural, environmental, and natural resources laws. Continue reading

Keep an Eye Out for Water Quality Risk This Spring

By: Greg Labarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist

Research measuring nutrient losses from surface and subsurface drainage in Ohio indicates that not all fields contribute equally to various water quality issues. Fields with higher than average potential losses have some characteristics observed during everyday field activities or when working with agronomic records.  For example, a stream bank collapsing and sloughing off is adding to downstream sedimentation issues, or a field with a soil test report showing phosphorus levels above agronomic need can result in higher soluble phosphorous losses. Continue reading

New Lake Erie Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. EPA

By: Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

We can’t say that Lake Erie is back in the news, because lately it hasn’t left the news. However, there is a new lawsuit in federal court that seeks further action from either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Ohio EPA regarding Lake Erie water quality. Filed on February 7, 2019 by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Toledo-based Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie, this new lawsuit alleges that the U.S. EPA improperly signed off on action taken by the Ohio EPA to designate Lake Erie as an impaired water body without implementing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) to restrict discharges such as agricultural runoff. The plaintiffs weren’t necessarily unhappy about the designation, but they were not happy about the lack of a TMDL. Continue reading

New Phosphorus Research Project for The Maumee Watershed

By: Ohio Ag Net staff

Some farm fields in northwest Ohio’s Maumee River watershed have more phosphorus than their crops can use. Called “elevated phosphorus fields,” such fields may be at higher risk of contributing to Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms.

That’s the premise of a new five-year, $5 million study that hopes to learn about those fields and lower that risk by creating new public-private partnerships.

Led by Jay Martin, an ecological engineering professor with The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), the study plans to monitor and manage more than a dozen elevated phosphorus fields, all in the Maumee River watershed. Continue reading

Funding available to Ohio Western Lake Erie Basin farmers to improve water quality

The next round of funding is now available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), as part of a five year, $17.5 million program funded by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The goal of the program is to reduce nutrients entering Ohio waterways to lessen harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Funding is available to assist farmers in installing conservation practices that benefit water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Continue reading

Fall Manure Application Tips

By Glen Arnold, CCA, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management and Kevin Elder, Livestock Environmental Permitting, Ohio Department of Agriculture

With warmer than normal weather forecast for the next couple of weeks, corn and soybean harvest in Ohio is expected to get back on track. Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators soon will be applying both liquid and solid manure as fields become available.

For poultry manure, handlers are reminded to stockpile poultry litter close to the fields actually receiving the manure. Stockpiles need to be 500 feet from a residence, 300 feet from a water source and 1,500 feet from a public water intake. Poultry litter cannot be stockpiled in a floodplain and cannot have offsite water running across the litter stockpile area. The site also cannot have a slope greater than six percent. Continue reading

Conservation efforts working in Lake Erie

Ohio farmers are making positive impacts to water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB), according to a new report from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This new report shows applied conservation practices reduce sediment losses from fields by an estimated 80% and reduce the amount of sediment being delivered to Lake Erie by an estimated 40%. Continue reading