Gov. DeWine proposes $900M plan to protect Ohio waterways

    Gov. DeWine spoke at the Impact Ohio Toledo Regional Conference on Thursday (WNWO).

    TOLEDO, Ohio (WNWO) -- Governor Mike DeWine announced a $900 million proposal in Toledo Thursday to protect Ohio's water.

    DeWine made the announcement at the Impact Ohio Toledo Regional Conference in downtown Toledo.

    Government officials, business leader and community members gathered at the Renaissance hotel for panels on three issues prevalent in Northwest Ohio: transportation and infrastructure, children services and protecting the quality of Ohio's water.

    "I think it all goes hand in hand, when you talk about water its a unifier. It unifies, it impacts our children, it impacts every part of our lives, not just environment, but our economy, our education our agriculture, our faith," said Crystal Davis, Alliance for the Great Lakes policy director.

    The fund DeWine proposed, called H2Ohio, would protect waterways around the state with a focus on Lake Erie.

    He said there isn't a simple solution, but programs would include continued research, creating more wetlands to act as natural filter and giving farmers incentives for practices that will cause less runoff.

    "There tends to be a lot of rhetoric about the farmers pouring and dumping fertilizer and manure and that's just not really true, there's a reality that there is nutrients coming off the farm field, but it's more of a small drip than a malicious action," said Jordan Hoewischer, Ohio Farm Bureau Water Quality & Research director.

    DeWine said the fund is a better option than a bond issue and would save taxpayers $475 million and would span over the next decade to develop long-term solutions.

    "I think that part of our problem in the past is we sort of lurched from budget to budget," said DeWine. "We need to set the money aside so the scientists and everyone else that looking at this can say look, we have this amount of money now lets figure out how over the next 10 years we're going to spend this money."

    DeWine said the funds will come out of the money that is left from the budget this year and the next two years.

    He is expected to release his budget proposal for 2020 and 2021 in Columbus Friday morning.

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