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Bill to restore Ohio drinking water protection gets first hearing

Lawmakers, cities fear water contamination likely if recent change in law stands
November 16, 2015
Democrat Newsroom

State Reps. David Leland (D-Columbus) and Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) will provide sponsor testimony for House Bill (HB) 304 on Tuesday, November 17 at 10:00 a.m. in the Ohio House Local Government Committee. The legislation will repeal a provision inserted into the most recent state budget that would allow certain residents to significantly alter the buffer zones that help protect public water supplies.     

“Our reservoirs are a vital source of public water for Columbus and other cities across Ohio, and the strips of land, or buffers, encircling these reservoirs act as a natural filter that removes contaminants that would threaten our water supply,” said Leland. “This provision, which was inserted in the budget at the last minute without public input or participation, threatens the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of people. Given the drinking water issues Ohio has faced in the last couple of years, we should be doing more to protect our drinking water, not less.”

Critics of the budget provision worry that allowing residents to alter the dense strips of vegetation that border public water sources will reduce the natural barriers that slow storm-water runoff and filter out fertilizers, thereby exacerbating the algae problems already being experienced in the state. Five Ohio cities – Columbus, Akron, Lima, Barberton, and Westerville – have already sued in court to overturn the hastily passed state law.

“As the father of two infants, I believe the provisions inserted into the state budget that would allow areas around reservoirs like Hoover to be altered are bad policy and should be debated in an open and transparent manner,” said Stinziano. “Hoover Reservoir is a vital public resource and we need to do everything we can to protect it.”

Tuesday’s House Local Government Committee meeting is open to the public.