Gov. John Kasich has signed an executive order that could end up creating new regulations on fertilizer used by farms in the western basin of Lake Erie, which he says it will help stop toxic algae blooms from developing.
Runoff of phosphorus and other nutrients from farmland is considered a leading contributor to algae blooms.
Kasich’s order asks the Ohio EPA and the departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources to recommend rules for fertilizer and manure use in eight watersheds in western Ohio. “We have to constantly upgrade and do what we can – respecting farmers, they’re an important part of our system – but to develop a plan that will keep us from having more algae blooms and doing more damage to that lake," said Kasich.
The Kasich administration has said voluntary steps taken by farmers haven’t been enough, and that more aggressive action is needed. Some 7,000 farms could be affected. But farm groups are pushing back, saying the solution to the algae bloom problem is unclear.