The program facilitates development of multi-jurisdictional watershed action plans by local government or non- profit organizations employing watershed coordinators. These action plans, now covering nearly 1/3 of Ohio, meet protection and restoration needs for local water resources while also incorporating broader goals and policies of the state and coastal nonpoint source management programs. Support consists of coordinator grants for plan development and implementation; training; and technical assistance. While water quality is a major focus, broader water resource management issues are also addressed including flooding and floodplain management and drinking water supplies. The program has an additional emphasis on stream protection, assisting public and private riparian owners with cost-effective means of stream management.
Environmental, Economic and Public Importance
High quality and abundant water resources for drinking water, industry, and recreation are vital to a strong economy. Fortunately Ohio’s generally abundant water represents an important competitive advantage for our state, but managing those water resources and protecting its quality remains critical, perhaps even more so since nonpoint sources of water pollution, including stream modification, are now recognized as the greatest threat. However, success with these programs requires an artful mix of voluntary and regulatory approaches collaborative problem-solving on a watershed basis over a period of years. Empowering local partnerships is a proven, efficient way for Ohio to invest in long-term water resources restoration and protection.
Watershed coordinators can be credited with many successes. Although good watershed management always involves many partners and stakeholders, watershed coordinators do the leg work, and fill other voids that individual partners can’t do alone. Ohio has now endorsed over 60 watershed action plans covering nearly half of Ohio. Watershed coordinators help partners combine and focus resources to turn these plans into reality. Much of this is through grant seeking. A $10 million investment since 2000, watershed coordinators have leveraged over $100 million of grants and other funding. Much of the Olentangy River is now free flowing. Major streams in the coal bearing region of Ohio, recently devoid of life, now support thriving communities of fish. Urban streams like Euclid Creek, West Creek, and Chagrin River have become valuable community assets and are incorporated into cost-effective infrastructure management strategies. The amount of sediment and nutrients prevented from entering streams and rivers from agricultural watersheds could fill fleets of cargo ships. Local leaders throughout Ohio have a better understanding of how good watershed management keeps infrastructure costs down and brings recreation and other business to their communities.
Ohio Watershed Coordinator Grants
Watershed coordinator positions are made possible by Ohio's Watershed Coordinator Grants Program, which provides salary and fringe to local governments and non-profits to support a watershed coordinator. Learn more from this 2003 Watershed Projects Vision/Expectations document (36 KB pdf).
The program is supported by a diverse state and federal partnership including Ohio Department of Natural Resources divisions of Soil and Water Conservation, Mineral Resources Management, Wildlife, Office of Coastal Management; and Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water. Nearly half of the funding originates from Section 319 of the Clean Water Act administered by U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA.
Click here for a current listing of watershed coordinators (224KB PDF).
If you want to know more about what watershed coordinators are doing, read individual Watershed Coordinator Grant Annual Work Plans by browsing a variety of plans in several file formats in our ftp directory.
Ohio Watershed Network (OWN)
Ohio supports watershed coordinators and partnerships through a nationally recognized education program administered by Ohio State University Extension - the Ohio Watershed Network (OWN).
OWN has 3 primary components:
- An Ohio Watershed Network website containing information about specific watersheds and a variety of helpful tools and information resources.
- Ohio Watershed Listserv with a current membership of over 400 subscribers. Go here and subscribe today!
- The Ohio Watershed Academy is a professional-development course designed to help watershed professionals and volunteers develop and execute watershed action plans that involve, excite, and commit their community. The Academy includes Web-based lessons and in-person meetings with peers and instructors and is typically offered twice a year.
- EPA Newsletter: Watershed News at: http://www.epa.gov/watershed/news.html
Experience Ohio's Watersheds an OSU website introducing watersheds, their characteristics, and the importance of biological stream quality monitoring in the land use planning process.
For questions or additional information concerning Ohio Watershed Programs, please contact us.