News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Akron General

Wayside Furniture

Hospice of the Western Reserve


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


Ohio farmers and environmental groups debate efforts to reduce algae growth
Phosphorus is at the center of discussions coming in the wake of the Toledo water ban earlier this month
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler says his department is making more than $150 million in grants and zero-interest loans available for public water systems
Courtesy of Andy Chow
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
A debate is heating up around the state on how to best cut-down on the growth of toxic algae in the public water system. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, farmers say they’re doing their part to cut down on nutrient runoff, while other groups say that’s not good enough.
Ohio farmers and environmental groups debate efforts to reduce algae growth

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:36)


Kris Swartz gives me a tour of his land in Perrysburg you can tell right off the bat he’s not your average farmer, jokingly dubbing himself “The Geeky Farmer” as we hop into his Honda Element. 

Andy Chow: “Not the typical farming vehicle?” 

Swartz: “No this is not—this is not. My theory is I have a big pickup that hogs gas and if I don’t have to drive it I might as well not.” 

And that’s the kind of sustainable approach Swartz likes to take with his crops. For example, the device Swartz is showing me is called a "controlled drainage structure" which helps keep water on his land longer, more efficiently using the rain that falls.

“The theory is it gives the plants more opportunity to take the phosphate out.” 

Phosphorus is a key buzzword in northwest Ohio and around the state right now after a toxin from algae resulted in a drinking water ban for half a million people in the Toledo area. Phosphorus is a main component found in fertilizer which can runoff into waterways and feed harmful algal blooms.

The state is now providing more funding for farmers [and] encouraging them to install drainage control structures and other nutrient-reduction tools. 

Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, says “It’s gonna be one of the multi-tiered approaches. It’s not going to be the silver bullet, but it’s certainly gonna keep more nutrients on your land.” 

A $150 million start
He and other state officials are rolling out different policies in an effort to improve water quality. 

That includes the Ohio EPA, which is making more than $150 million in grants and zero-interest loans available for public water systems. The money can be used to upgrade facilities and cut down on the amount of pollutants that come through wastewater plants. EPA Director Craig Butler admits these renovations can be a huge undertaking. 

“The idea of taking a loan of several hundred million dollars, even at zero-percent interest, is a significant burden to a community so we understand that this could still be a burden to some disadvantaged communities and we’re trying to find ways to alleviate that.”

While they applaud some of the latest efforts, environmental groups are calling on the state to take even bigger steps to stem algae growth.

The National Wildlife Federation wants Gov. John Kasich to declare Lake Erie’s western basin as a distressed water body, saying this will make it easier for policymakers to cut down on the toxic algae. 

The Ohio Environmental Council’s Adam Rissien acknowledges the good work done by farmers on a voluntary basis, but says it’s time for the government to step in with tougher regulations. 

“There’s just no way around it we have a lot of farmers and livestock operators that participate in conservation programs and they need to be commended but the reality is we can’t just rely on the good actors to fix this problem it’s not fair to them it’s not fair to the people who drink the tap water.” 

Government regulations
But back on the Swartz Farm, Kris thinks government mandates would be going too far, and says that farmers want to find ways to cut down on nutrient runoff. 

“I think people just don’t understand our business. I hear some people say we dump fertilizer on; we don’t dump fertilizer on. We apply it. It’s expensive. If you’re keeping the phosphorus on your ground it’s an economic benefit to you.” 

Legislators held public meetings in northwest Ohio to hear comments and concerns about algae growth in the area. The House will also conduct a study on the problem to find other ways of addressing the issue.
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

The generation gap in care for developmentally disabled Ohioans
I don't understand how a few hours a day of caregiving can possibly help a person who lives with complex/multiple disabilities. Many waiver recipients totally d...

Marijuana referendum may change more than pot's legal status in Ohio
If our representatives would act in accordance with the will of the people things like this wouldn't happen. They dragged their feet and blocked discussion on t...

Area pastors and congregation members protest justice system
I live in Cleveland. trust me when I say the high incarceration rate is due to the high crime rate.

Ohio's attorney general rejectsthe latest proposal to legalize marijuana
i think the ag launguage is money hes talking about drug companies must pay him more than responsible ohio can

PBS documentary chronicles the fall of Saigon through new footage and stories
Hi, Does anyone know the number - in the pbs special "Last Days of Vietnam" documentary, of how many Vietnamese were evacuated? Please e-mail me the answer. T...

Protest planned at tomorrow's FirstEnergy meeting
The problems of the poor and downtrodden have nothing to do with First Energy. They are the result of Republican legislators who consistently reduce taxes on th...

Ohio bill would help smaller communities with LGBT discrimination laws
Do we not try and have rights for all individuals equally? On the HUD list of "preferred" candidates who get "special consideration" it states that: For purp...

Ohio likely will continue with two types of police academies
Wake up people your wanting a Harvard law school education for a job that may pay a little over the poverty level. I don't know anyone who could support a wife ...

Police Week's ties from NE Ohio to D.C.
The men and women in blue who risk their lives everyday to serve and protect us....and this is as much recognition and appreciation that NPR/WKSU feels to offer...

First in a Series: How charter schools got a foothold in Ohio
If the interest where in education and there would be oversight of taxpayer dollars, charter schools would be okay. However, Charter School in Ohio are purely f...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University