Government funds aimed at Lake Erie improvements

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Federal and state lawmakers recently announced $2 million in new federal resources to help protect Lake Erie.

The funds will be used to help farmers in designated parts of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana prevent phosphorus from entering Western Lake Erie Basin waterways. The announcement is part of an effort to improve water quality and support jobs in Ohio that are generated through the hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation industries tied to Lake Erie.

“A healthy Lake Erie is vital to Ohio’s prosperity and achieving this goal requires a comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck strategy,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement. “These new resources will enable farmers to employ the best conservation practices possible and demonstrate how farmers can contribute to revitalizing Lake Erie and the recreation, tourism, and boating industries the lake supports.”

Funds will address the excess amounts of phosphorus that cause blue-green algae to grow intensively in rivers and streams, where it limits oxygen concentrations in water, makes water quality improvement more expensive and affects tourism in surrounding communities.

Landowners that are included in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program are eligible to apply, and applications for funding are due at local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices by April 27.

Selected projects will pilot new practices that show promise as tools to address phosphorus runoff, such as biofilters and controlled drainage.