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Ohio Legislature Weighs New 'Run-off' Regs For Farmers

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The blue-green algae inundating Lake Erie and some other Ohio lakes is fueled by fertilizer runoff from farm fields and lawns.

The Ohio House is expected to vote on legislation this week to regulate fertilizer and manure run-off from fields. The run-off is partially blamed for a toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie that disrupted water supply for 400,000 Toledo residents last summer.

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation spokeswoman Yvonne Lesicko says the house bill will help reduce the threat of toxic algae blooms.

“I think it’s absolutely a critical piece in terms of a larger comprehensive way, and a larger comprehensive solution to deal with what happened in Lake Erie,” says Lesicko.

Lesicko says the bill allows farmers time to comply with new regulations. The Ohio Environmental Council says timeliness is a concern. Spokesman Adam Rissien says the OEC takes a neutral position on the house legislation, in part, because it lacks an emergency clause and would NOT take effect in time for spring planting.

“And any provisions that we can get in place before the ground starts seeing significant rain events i sgoing to be a good thing,” says Rissien.

The house is expected to vote on the bill this week. It will then have to be reconciled with a stricter Senate Bill.