Governor Proposes H2Ohio
In March, Governor DeWine proposed a ten year, $900 million project to protect water resources in Ohio as part of the Ohio Budget process. While the proposal includes care for water resources throughout the state, the H2Ohio project would make significant investment in Ohio’s Lake Erie resources. In addition, stakeholders suggest that the state investment would be matched or tripled through private investment.
Although some discussion of bonding the projects had been considered, the Governor’s proposal included funds from the state’s rainy day fund as well as future General Revenue (aka tax dollars) in this and future budgets. The proposal envisions ten years of funding. According the the budget blue book, the H2Ohio line item provides funding for new and continued improvements to existing coastal and upland wetlands in the western basin of Lake Erie. The funds may also be used for targeted land acquisition and grants to other organizations that would create wetlands. Funds would also be available for land-based nutrient management programs, staffing at SWCDs, and funding for aggressive action to address water treatment and failing septic systems. It will also fund investment into scientific research and measurement efforts.
Early indicators from Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder is that the House is likely to keep the program in place at its funding levels, although his Chamber is looking closely at accountability and other safeguards.
 
Resources
Investing in Ohio’s Natural Resources (Fact sheet from Gov’s Office)
Redbook: ODNR (Legislative Budget Office)
Redbook: Lake Erie Commission (Legislative Budget Office)
HB 166 (Budget Bill: warning large file)
House Finance SubCommittee Testimony (Ag & Natural Resources)
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