Some States Consider Measures, Which Could Impact Farmers, to Combat Algae Blooms

Kris Maher and Cameron McWhirter reported in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that, “Ohio is joining a growing list of states ramping up efforts to control potentially toxic algal blooms that are fouling water supplies and making summer swims dangerous in lakes, ponds and reservoirs across the country with increasing frequency.”

The Journal writers explained that, “Last month, Ohio released a draft of a multiyear plan aimed at curbing the amount of phosphorus that enters Lake Erie primarily via the Maumee River. The nutrient, which drains off farmland, sewage treatment plants and streets and lawns, feeds algae growth in the lake each summer. The plan is subject to public comment through June 25.

“Joe Cornely, a spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said the group is cautiously supportive of the state’s plan, which also seeks to address sewage overflows from treatment plants and bad septic systems. ‘Farmers are willing to do their share, but they can’t do this alone,’ he said.”

The Journal article noted that, “Minnesota adopted a rule in 2015 that requires farmers and others to install a 50-foot buffer of vegetation around rivers, lakes and wetlands. After complaints from farmers, the rule was amended in April to exclude drainage ditches on private land.

Wisconsin has set the most stringent maximum limits for phosphorus in rivers, lakes and reservoirs…[I]owa lawmakers sought ways this spring to curb nitrates and phosphorus but failed to pass any measures.”

The Journal article added that, “Last year, Republican Gov. John Kasich also signed legislation that prohibits farmers from spreading fertilizer on ground that is frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if there is a forecast of rain over the next 12 to 24 hours, depending on the type of fertilizer used.”

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