Ohio has checkered history of protecting water

Ohio has checkered history of protecting water

Ohio is a beautiful state — rolling hills, plenteous farm fields, gorgeous river valleys. Ohio is unique. Even more could be said for this part of the state.

The falls in Eastern Ohio are some of the best in the nation — colored leaves reflecting in a pond or stream. Our area has been blessed with an abundance of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. We have numerous preserves, parks and trails wherein we can see this natural beauty. And at the center of much of this beauty are water resources.

As conservationists, Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been tasked by the State of Ohio with helping to conserve this precious resource. We need to be good stewards of our water resources today so our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy and benefit from these resources in future generations. Unfortunately, not all share our vision of conserving and protecting our water resources.

Ohio has had a checkered history of protecting its streams and rivers. How many readers can remember the Cuyahoga River actually catching fire? Numerous streams have been adversely affected with acid mine drainage. Countless tons of topsoil have clogged the rivers in the Muskingum Watershed.

I personally cannot remember the last time I saw the Tuscarawas River run clear. Even if a river or stream runs clear, it still may be impacted. I remember as a child playing in the Nimishillen Creek in Southern Stark County, virtually never seeing a fish, due in part to the pollution in the waters.

I do not mean to paint such a bleak picture. Over the past generation, the situation has been changing for the better. Both the state and federal governments and numerous concerned individuals have been taking active steps to protect our water resources.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio EPA have all played a part in monitoring the waters of the state, for the protection of its citizens and the preservation and conservation of its natural resources. And federally, the Clean Water Act has helped in restoring the quality and quantity of the water resources that are available for the residents of Ohio.

To help further the cause of conservation and to promote the wise use of its water resources, the Tuscarawas and Coshocton SWCDs are sponsoring a workshop promoting the protection of the water resources in our area and proper, conscientious development.

On Feb. 16 Rachel Taulbee, surface water resources environmental supervisor with the SE District of the Ohio EPA, will speak on obtaining a water quality certification for work that has to be done in any of the waters of the state. She also will address what types of water quality features are protected by law and speak on the relevant laws related to stormwater permits. I also will speak on floodplains, what they are, proper development in the floodplain and why it is needed.

This meeting is being held at the Dover Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon. Anyone wishing to attend should RSVP by Feb. 9 by calling the Tuscarawas SWCD at 330-339-7976 or by emailing Lee Finley, REHS, at lfinley@tuscsoil.com.

Lee Carl Finley is a district resource specialist with the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District and is coordinating the floodplain program for the Tuscarawas County commissioners.

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