WQC Forum Takes Action, Attracts Talent

photo credit: Lucas County

By Carol Contrada, Chair, TMACOG Water Quality Council

On a hot July day, even as researchers with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration were preparing the 2019 Algae forecast for Lake Erie, TMACOG’s Water Quality Council was pressing ahead with initiatives, collaboration, and innovative partnerships in focused efforts to protect Lake Erie and our greatest natural resource – plentiful, fresh water. ul, fresh water

More than 40 TMACOG members and members of the public were present at our July 8 meeting including county engineers and commissioners, consultants and citizens, village and city administrators, township trustees, city council members, and mayors. We were joined by State Representatives Haraz Ghanbari and Michael Sheehy. Both representatives were engaged participants throughout the meeting and both offered valuable insights into the state budget and new administration policies. They also pledged their personal commitment to achieving and sustaining a healthy Western Lake Erie Basin, and continuing working in partnership with TMACOG members. We look forward to a productive relationship.

During the business meeting, the WQC voted unanimously on four key action items, all of which are direct steps to improving water quality.

New Initiative
We are excited to welcome representatives from county Soil and Water Conservation Districts in TMACOG’s planning area, as well as area farmers, the Ohio and Michigan Farm Bureaus, the Ohio Farmers Union, college and university representatives, and commodity groups to form a new Agriculture subcommittee of the WQC. The Ag committee will begin meeting quarterly in August. Ag committee objectives include public and stakeholder education, and recommending policies, funding, and initiatives that support the target phosphorus load reduction of 40% to Lake Erie.

Supporting Collaboration

The WQC voted unanimously to support the joint Ottawa County/Lucas County application to the Ohio EPA for Phase I, Sanitary Collection and Treatment General Plan for the Curtice and Williston Unsewered Areas in Lucas County. Not only is this a collaborative effort between two county boards of commissioners, but the application also moves forward TMACOG’s mission to improve wastewater management through section 208 of the Clean Water Act.

Promoting Innovation
The WQC voted to support an application for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding for a Swan Creek Two-Stage Ditch Restoration in Van Fleet Ditch in Monclova Township. This project, led by the Lucas County Engineer’s office, seeks funding to create floodplain benches that will slow water flow and allow for the assimilation of sediments and nutrients in waters flowing to the Maumee River and Lake Erie. This high-design, low-technology technique addresses nutrient reduction goals set forth by Ohio’s Domestic Action Plan.

Building Partnerships
The WQC voted to support the Great Lakes Commission’s application for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds for its project: Conservation Kick. This project takes a new look at water quality credits. It aims to create a path for communities to connect with partners in agriculture and improve the quality of source water through the purchase of these credits. While traditional water quality trading has proven challenging in most of Ohio, this project explores a new approach in the Lake Erie region that partners with drinking water plants and other conservation stakeholders.

WQC: Valuable Regional Resource Attracts Talent
This productive meeting reaffirmed that members of the Water Quality Council committees – Stormwater Coalition, Wastewater, Public Water Supply, Watersheds, and Agriculture – bring professionalism, experience, dedication, and commitment to these marquee projects as well as the day-to-day work of ensuring clean water and a healthy watershed for all. Our actions demonstrate our growing ability to bring funding and support for water infrastructure projects to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Mission Statement: Water Quality Council
Plan best management practices with land and water resources
to design and implement projects that will reduce, control, or remove pollutants, improve drainage, and restore wetlands and floodplains within the region

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