Watersheds in Distress – New Reg’s Coming

Governor John Kasich signed an executive order on July 11, 2018 directing the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to “consider whether it is appropriate to seek the consent of the Ohio Soil and Water Commission (OSWC) to designate” certain watersheds “as watersheds in distress due to increased nutrient levels resulting from phosphorous attached to soil sediment.”  Since that time, ODA has submitted a proposed rule dealing with Watersheds in Distress.  Amendments were made to the proposed rule after evaluating the first set of public comments, and ODA is now resubmitting the rules package.

 Highlights of the Department’s revisions include the following changes:
  1. Make the proposed rule mirror the existing standards in the Revised Code that govern the application of manure and fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered and rain-soaked ground in the Western Basin.  These standards were enacted in Senate Bill 1 of the 131st General Assembly;
  2. Remove the manure application prohibition window for Grand Lake Saint Marys;
  3. Give the Director more flexibility in establishing the deadline for the submission and approval of nutrient management plans;
  4. Allow farmers to attest to the completion of their nutrient management plans by the deadline, while maintaining Ohio Department of Agriculture oversight to verify the completion and incorporation of a nutrient management plan.

A draft of the newly amended proposed rules is available here.

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