H20hio Program rolls out in Shelby County

SIDNEY — Shelby County is now an H2Ohio eligible county.

Producers have until Aug. 30, 2021, to sign up for the program, which offers funding to farmers who implement proven conservation practices that limit agricultural phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, is now open to farmers in Seneca, Huron, Erie, Wyandot, Richland, Shelby, Sandusky, Marion, Ottawa and Crawford counties, bringing the total number of counties eligible for the program to 24. Phosphorus runoff is the primary factor behind algal blooms on Lake Erie.

Ohio’s new bipartisan operating budget, passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Gov, Mike DeWine, provides $120 million over the next two years to continue and expand funding to farmers who work to reduce phosphorus runoff.

“We are excited to not only move forward with these important conservation practices in our original target area of the Western Lake Erie Basin, but also be able to incorporate these practices into an even greater area,” said ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda “Interest is incredibly strong and ODA is committed to working with our farmers to help them navigate the process of conserving their water and land resources, while advancing water quality in our state.”

Virtual meetings will be held later this month for farmers in the newly eligible counties to provide more information on H2Ohio’s conservation programs:

• July 28, 6 p.m.

• July 29, 1 p.m.

More information and links to the meetings are available at www. Shelbyswcd.org

Additionally an in person informational meeting scheduled for Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. at the “Beige Building” at the Shelby County Fairgrounds. Staff from Shelby Soil and Water and Ohio Department of Agriculture will give a program overview and answer any questions that arise.

Farmers in the original 14 participating counties, including Williams, Fulton, Lucas, Defiance, Henry, Wood, Paulding, Putnam, Hancock, Van Wert, Allen, Hardin, Mercer, and Auglaize, will continue receiving incentives during the program’s second year and have already enrolled more than one million acres of cropland in the program.

DeWine launched H2Ohio in November 2019 as a long-term, data-driven water quality plan to reduce harmful algal blooms, improve wastewater infrastructure, and address lead contamination in Ohio. The initiative is a collaboration involving ODA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Lake Erie Commission and other environmental, agricultural, and educational partners. It is the first comprehensive state program that addresses all aspects of water quality.

Call Shelby SWCD at 937-492-6520 ext 3 for more details.