Posted by Anne Decker on Feb 06, 2019
Agriculture has a big impact on water quality.
The United States began regulating water quality in 1972 after the Cuyahoga River caught on fire, and though tremendous improvements have been made in the quality of our water since then, we are still facing problems like algal blooms. Beth Seibert, Coordinator of the Ottawa River Coalition, and Jay Begg, who has been farming all his life, told us that quite a bit of the problem comes from non-point source pollution, or water runoff from farm fields, yards and roads. Farmers have responded with best management practices like no-till farming, planting buffer strips around water ways, and being more conscious about the amount of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides they apply. But Begg says there's still an issue and the farmers aren't sure why. "We don't exactly know how to do it. We don't understand how the phosphorus is leaving the fields, but it is." He says Ohio, Michigan and Ontario have signed an agreement to reduce the amount of phosphorous running off into Lake Erie by 40% by 2025, which is an "ambitious goal." "I don't think there's anybody who doesn't think this is a problem and nobody who doesn't want to fix it. We just want to fix it cooperatively and voluntarily and not at the end of a gun," says Begg, referring to Former Governor Kasich's executive order declaring Lake Erie a distressed watershed and requiring 7,000 farms in northwest Ohio to reduce their agricultural runoff. The order has not yet been implemented and Begg says there just isn't the time or the resources to ensure compliance. Begg says this is an ongoing discussion and in the meantime, farmers continue with their best practices.
Also at Rotary, Monday, we presented a check for $723 to Crime Victim Services. This is the proceeds of last quarter's Rottery drawings.