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Coalition Calls For Giant Public Trust For Ohio Water Protection

Dayton Water Great Miami River

A new report calls for the creation of a $250 million trust to fund water protection in Ohio.

The group Healthy Water Ohio, a coalition of business and environmental groups, convened last year and decided to begin its work with a study, which included surveys of residents and interviews and focus groups around the state.

The report starts by laying out just how important water is to Ohio’s economy; the vast majority of water use in the state, 77 percent, goes to electric power. The U.S. Geological survey shows a big pool of the rest goes to public use and industrial production, with farms using less than one percent.

But there’s also the water use that isn’t consumptive: fishing and recreation on scenic rivers and lakes.

Those rivers and lakes have been threatened for decades by industrial pollution and runoff from farms, which can lead to toxic green bacteria blooms.

Healthy Water Ohio was initiated by business groups like the Ohio Farm Bureau that generally oppose strict regulation to protect the state’s water. They say incentives and voluntary programs are a better way to get farmers on board.

The report calls for the creation of a statewide water research group, a giant public-private trust to fund education and infrastructure along with a voter-approved bond to supply that fund, and increased coordination on water issues across the state.

Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.

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