Shared from the 5/14/2018 Sandusky Register eEdition


Two bills aim to help Lake Erie






State Sen. Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, and state Rep. Steve Arndt, R-Port Clinton, introduced two new bills Wednesday aimed at cleaning up Lake Erie and winning the state’s battle against harmful algal blooms.

Gardner said the bill’s introduction reflects his sense of urgency to deal with Lake Erie’s problems.

“We need to do more,” Gardner said.

Gardner introduced Senate Bill 299, the bill to carry out his Clean Lake 2020 plan, which would fulfill a variety of efforts to help the lake. Also Wednesday, Arndt introduced an identical House bill, HB 643. Both lawmakers represent Erie and Ottawa counties.

Gardner also introduced Senate Joint Resolution 6, to create a $1 billion Ohio water bond issue that would spend $100 million a year for 10 years, with half of the money earmarked to the western basin of Lake Erie. Gardner said he wants to get the bond issue on the ballot this fall.

Arndt introduced a House bill to support the proposed bond issue, House Joint Resolution 16.

Here are key provisions of SB 299:

n Spending as much as $20 million at the Ohio Department of Agriculture to reduce phosphorus runoff in the western basin of Lake Erie. The department would work with the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Ohio Soil and Water Commission.

The money could pay for equipment to improve the placement of nutrients in the soil and for other initiatives aimed at reducing harmful runoff.

n Spending $10 million on the Health Lake Erie Initiative, in addition to the $10 million in the just-approved capital improvements bill, to pay for projects to help end open lake dumping in Lake Erie.

n Spending $2.65 million on Ohio State Sea Grant’s Stone Laboratory near Put-in-Bay to pay for research lab space and devices to monitor the lake, including buoys.

n Providing $3.5 million to support soil and water conservation districts in the western basin of Lake Erie to support conservation efforts that reduce harmful runoff into the lake.

Gardner said the bill already has bipartisan support.

Arndt said he also already has support for his measure.

“I have quite a number of co-sponsors,” he said.

As for SJR 6, Gardner has talked for years about seeking a bond issue to support water quality projects in Ohio.

Asked if he has the support of other lawmakers and the governor’s office for the $1 billion bond issue, Gardner said, “I don’t know yet. We’ll find out.”

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