August & September 2013
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Approval Sought Portage River Plan

The 2013 draft of the Portage River Watershed Plan will be presented to the Portage River Basin Council for approval on August 1. It is also being submitted to the Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources for their endorsement.

The 2013 draft builds on and expands the reach of an earlier approved plan for the watershed.

Additional hydrologic units (HUCs) were added to the Portage River Watershed Plan
in the 2013 Update

The Portage River watershed touches five counties and includes three cities and 25 villages. The river is about 60 miles long and has 10 major tributaries. Major impairments in the watershed include excess nutrients, particularly phosphorus, as well as areas with undesirable levels of bacteria, nitrate, and sediment. The plan outlines actions to address impairments.

As phosphorus is a nutrient that has been linked to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, reduction is a priority. Agriculture is the largest single source of phosphorus; applying USDA-recommended best management practices can be effective in reaching those reductions. The approach is nutrient stewardship, called the “4Rs,” which advocate applying the right nutrient source (fertilizer) at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. Specific practices include planting cover crops in the fall to protect topsoil during the winter and early spring, which reduces phosphorus runoff. Other practices include adding vegetative buffer strips along streams and ditches, and using “variable rate technology” to apply fertilizer across a field based on nutrient needs determined by soil tests.

Actions that reduce phosphorus in the waterways also result in substantial reductions in bacteria, nitrate, and sediment. To further reduce bacteria, the Portage plan recommends replacing or repairing failed septic systems and “package” sewage treatment plants. Additional education and informational programs in the area will increase understanding of the issues and build consensus on actions that will help maintain and improve water quality in the watershed.

See a presentation outlining the plan here.

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