What is H2Ohio?

A collaborative approach to the issues facing Ohio’s water.

H2Ohio is Governor Mike DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water for all Ohioans. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term. H2Ohio focuses specifically on reducing phosphorus, creating wetlands, addressing failing septic systems, and preventing lead contamination.

In July 2019, the Ohio General Assembly invested $172 million in this plan, which has led the way for Ohio’s top water quality and conservation experts to conduct studies and explore all angles of a statewide, multi-faceted approach to clean water.

H2Ohio was created through unprecedented collaboration, using strategies that are long-term, sustainable, cost-effective, and permanent. The Governor, his team, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Lake Erie Commission, and many interested parties, including the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative (OACI), and our partners in conservation have worked together to invest in projects across Ohio that will reduce nutrients and provide long-term economic and water quality benefits to communities statewide.

H2Ohio Announcement, November 14, 2019

Information found on the H2Ohio website.


Streamlining development of H2Ohio VNMPs

Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Agribusiness Association joining forces

Photo Credit: H2Ohio

PUBLISHED ON SEPTEMBER 30, 2020 : Morning Ag Clips

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) are joining forces to streamline the approval process of Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) for farmers participating in the H2Ohio water quality initiative to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie.

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Agribusiness Association (OABA) are joining forces to streamline the approval process of Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans (VNMP) for farmers participating in the H2Ohio water quality initiative to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie.

On Sept. 3, 2020, ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda appointed two ODA staff members, Kip Studer and Peter McDonough, to work in partnership with OABA and Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts to approve VNMPs that have been developed as part of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program.

First launched in the Spring of 2014, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program is a proactive, responsible commitment aimed at the long-term improvement of water quality. This voluntary, annual third-party auditor verified program provides a consistent, recognized standard for agricultural retailers, nutrient service providers and other certified professionals in the state of Ohio. This approach provides a science-based framework for plant nutrition management and sustained crop production, while considering specific individual farms’ needs. The Certification Program requires participants to adopt proven best practices through the 4Rs, which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place.

“With the overwhelming response we have received from farmers who have applied for Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Program, we are pleased to be able to efficiently and effectively tackle the first step of moving forward with implementing on-field conservation,” said Director Pelanda. “By appointing these employees to assist in a timely approval process, ODA is committed to working with our farmers and partners to invest in water quality in Ohio.”

“Farmers rely on their trusted service providers and I’m pleased that 4R Certified participants will have this streamlined process available to assist their customers.” states Chris Henney, president and CEO of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association.

To take part in the H2Ohio initiative, farmers are required to have an approved VNMP, which provides recommendations for nutrient management and records all nutrient applications. Nearly 2,000 farmers in the Maumee River Watershed have enrolled in the H2Ohio initiative and are in the process of updating or developing VNMPs.

VNMPs, when followed properly, serve as the foundation for meeting crop nutrition needs. VNMPs may be approved by the supervisors of the applicable Soil and Water Conservation District, the director of agriculture, or the director’s designee.

Producers are encouraged to contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to learn more about the benefits of developing a VNMP.

Ohio Department of Agriculture

Water Quality Challenges

Found on the H2Ohio website

Harmful Algal Blooms

Although most blooms on Ohio’s lakes and reservoirs are green algae and not harmful, there are some that have the ability to produce toxins called harmful algal blooms (HABs). More info on HABs can be found at the Ohio EPA. In addition, the state published recreational advisories for HABs at the Ohio Department of Health.

Nutrient Pollution

Nutrient pollution is caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways. Nutrients are elements that all living organisms need to grow, however too much in the water can contribute to harmful algal blooms, as well as other issues. More information on nutrient pollution and how the state is addressing the issue can be found at the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

Failing Septic Systems

Septic systems treat wastewater from household plumbing fixtures (toilet, shower, laundry, etc.) through both natural and technological processes, typically beginning with solids settling in a septic tank, and ending with wastewater treatment in the soil via the drain field. Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and contamination of nearby water sources. The most serious documented problems involve contamination of surface waters and groundwater with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates. Other problems include excessive nutrient discharges into sensitive waters, which increases algal growth and lowers dissolved oxygen levels. More information on sewage treatment systems can be found at the Ohio EPA.

Lead Contamination

Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels. It can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. Lead is persistent, and it can bioaccumulate in the body over time causing physical and behavioral effects especially in pregnant women, infants, and young children. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. More information on lead can be found at the Ohio EPA.