Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine promises funding to fight lake algae

Lake Erie algae

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said this week that he plans to increase state funding in his upcoming budget proposal to fight algae growth in Lake Erie.

The Republican governor told the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in Columbus on Wednesday the effort is “going to take real money” and that his administration is determining what the funding amount will be.

DeWine previously voiced support for a measure proposed by state lawmakers to ask voters to approve borrowing $1 billion over 10 years to help farmers reduce fertilizer runoff while providing funding for monitoring and research. Phosphorous-based fertilizers are the primary cause of algae blooms that spread across Lake Erie’s western basin each summer.

DeWine’s predecessor, John Kasich, signed an executive order last year to have the Maumee watershed, which drains into the western basin, declared distressed to allow for increased state enforcement of farmers’ fertilizer use.

Agricultural groups like the farm bureau opposed the order. Kasich later fired Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels.

DeWine has not rescinded the order, but has placed it on hold for at least three months while his new agricultural director considers potential solutions.

DeWine said his budget proposal will broadly target water quality in the state, including the Ohio River watershed.

The governor’s budget is scheduled to be released March 15.

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