Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments 50th Anniversary Annual Report
WATER QUALITY When TMACOG was formed in 1968, the Clean Water Act did not yet exist. There was no national permit program that regulated pollution from industry and wastewater treatment plants. The term ”non-point source pollution” hadn’t been invented, much less agricultural best management practices. Use of DDT was not banned until 1972. Now we do have effective regulation that has greatly reduced pollution from industry and other point sources. And we have grant programs that can help farmers with fertilizer issues and households with failing septic tanks. But we also have new and difficult water quality challenges. In northwest Ohio, the return of harmful algal blooms is our paramount concern. National headlines in the 1970s declaring the death of Lake Erie led to a crisis that focused political action on funding for infrastructure, new regulations, and research. Since the water crisis in Toledo in 2014, additional state and federal funds have supported research and implementation directed toward the health of Lake Erie and the rivers that drain into it. Like other agencies and groups focusing on water quality in the western Lake Erie basin, TMACOG members are spending a lot of time absorbing this flood of research information. The Water Quality Council is TMACOG’s policy making council. In 2017 meetings provided information and discussion of water quality issues that affect our region. • Regional water and sewer districts under Ohio Revised Code section 6119 • Sewage policies and legislation • The City of Fremont’s new advanced water pollution control center • Removal the Ballville Dam to improve Sandusky River fish habitat • Black Swamp conservancy converts a golf course into riparian habitat • What are wetlands, and how do they protect clean water? • Reports on mass fish kills from Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources These presentations are helping to shape The Agenda for Lake Erie, a statement of policies, goals, and strategies that TMACOG members agree are necessary to improve the health of Lake Erie. It will address regional priorities and state the case for action at local, regional, and national levels. The Agenda will be complete in 2018. While agriculture and phosphorus are getting a lot of attention, TMACOG members participating in committees have not lost sight of other water issues including wastewater treatment, failing septic systems, erosion, and flood control. Hoytville farmer Brendyn George shows TMACOG President Tim Brown and Water Quality Planner Kari Gerwin how this water control structure works. Drainage tiles in a 60-acre field of soybeans direct water to a point intercepted by a vertical box. The stopper board he holds is dropped into the box where it blocks the outflow of water from the field. George holds water in his field during dry months. The rain and fertilizer from spring feed his crops all season long. 8. In 1991, with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA) and the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), TMACOG gained increased responsibility in transportation 1990’s planning, air quality planning, and areawide development.
Public Water Supply Committee • This committee recommends positions and policies that provide the region with abundant, safe, and reliable water supply. Its members include water supply operators and public utility professionals. • In 2017, TMACOG was certified as an Approved Training Provider by the Ohio EPA. Training offered at meetings of the Public Water Supply and Wastewater committees will provide official contact hours for operators at those facilities and professional development credits for professional engineers. • Meetings of the PWS welcomed presenters addressing: • Predicting microcycstin levels in source water • Beneficial reuse of spent lime • Perfluoroalkyl substances and drinking water advisories • Methods for reducing cyanotoxins in drinking water. Wastewater Committee • In 2017, TMACOG partnered with Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) to present “Field Training & Asset Management”. This training provided contact hours and professional development for professional engineers. • The Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (called the 208 Plan from that section of the Clean Water Act), is regularly updated to reflect new investment and economic development. Through the everyday business of sewage treatment and wastewater management, regional governments have sustained an efficient and cost-effective system that creates clean water and protects public health. • Septic system maintenance and repair continued to be a focus. A two-year public education program in Oregon and Jerusalem Township funded through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources concluded in 2017. Work included science nights at area schools, dissemination of a video on septic system maintenance, home visits and inspections, and a discount program encouraging system maintenance. Watersheds Committee • A large grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is helping farmers in the Portage and Toussaint watersheds defray the cost of best management practices that aim to reduce the amount of phosphorus reaching waterways. In partnership with Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Wood and Ottawa counties, farmers can be reimbursed for the purchase of water control structures and variable rate fertilizer application combined with cover crops. • In 2017, TMACOG planners began a twoyear nutrient source inventory study. The goal is to identify critical sewage areas (areas where people live but which are not served by sewer lines) and target resources to reduce nutrient inputs throughout the western Lake Erie basin. Information gained will help identify areas where repair, replacement, or management of septic systems, or installation of sewers offer cost-effective solutions to improving water quality. 1990’s In the mid-‘90s, public officials and the private sector increasingly recognized that economic development in northwest Ohio must be a regional effort. TMACOG staff rises to 30. TMACOG begins to present an annual Transportation Summit. 9.