Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed legislation Thursday to roll back regulations surrounding the development of ephemeral streams, which flow only by way of rain and snowmelt.
There are more than 36,000 miles of ephemeral streams in Ohio, according to legislative testimony from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. They channel water into larger streams and can filter out contaminants like nitrogen and phosphorus, which cause algal blooms.
Under current Ohio law, developers must obtain a permit to dredge or fill in any ephemeral feature, according to analysis from the Legislative Service Commission. Environmentalists say these permits, often paired with requirements to mitigate any environmental damage, are a key means to protect Ohio’s waterways. Developers say they’re expensive and onerous.
House Bill 175 would remove these permitting requirements for “ephemeral features” that are not covered by EPA rules under the federal Clean Water Act of 1972.
In a news release, the governor’s office said the legislation strikes a balance between protecting Ohio’s waterways and providing consistent state regulations to support economic development. The law, a statement reads, will provide needed clarity for the regulated business community and continued protection of water quality.
Pete Bucher, program director for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, called the legislation a step backward for clean water in Ohio.
“House Bill 175 fails to protect the important ecological qualities of Ohio’s ephemeral streams, and it also fails to protect the drinking water of millions of Ohioans who rely on water resources fed by these streams,” he said. “This bill could seriously unravel the progress that’s been made to clean up our rivers, lakes, and streams.”
See earlier coverage of the legislation here.
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