The federal government will offer farmers in 20 counties in the western Lake Erie watershed money to plant winter crops to reduce fertilizer runoff.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and U.S Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) announced the $2 million grant today on the banks of the Maumee River next to the National Museum of the Great Lakes. The federal emergency funds would be distributed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The money is aimed at averting future algae blooms like the one that overwhelmed Toledo‘s water treatment plant Aug. 2 - 4.
One official at the event said if farmers apply for the funds and use them it could reduce the runoff of nutrients like phosphorus by as much as 50 percent from what would have occurred otherwise.
Oregon farmer Bill Myers said he believes farmers will take advantage of the offer especially those knowledgeable about the environmental effects of nutrient runoff.
“No farmer goes out there knowingly trying to harm the environment. It’s where we get our paychecks,” he said.
Mr. Myers said farmers would need a cover crop such as rye that would hold the nutrients in the soil to keep them from washing into the river.