Brown Helped Create “Regional Conservation Partnership Program” in the 2014 Farm Bill; Program Could Fund Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC —U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced $1 million in new federal emergency funds to reduce runoff in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Today’s announcement is in addition to the $2 million from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help farmers enroll in the  Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides resources for producers to implement conservation practices, including preventive measures to reduce phosphorus runoff and prevent pollution in the Lake Erie Watershed.

“This new funding will help speed efforts to prevent additional pollution in Lake Erie and ensure our drinking water is safe,” Brown said. “But this is only one prong of a comprehensive strategy to protect our water supply. We must leverage all of our resources and work together – on a local, state, and federal level – to eliminate this risk.”

In just one week after Brown’s announcement on August 19, NRCS received more than 450 applications to plant cover crops on 86,000 acres. Because of increased participation in EQIP, NRCS is releasing additional funding to meet the need.

Brown is committed to ensuring that all Ohioans have access to clean, safe, and affordable water. He helped establish the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that would provide up to $1.2 billion nationwide for farmers to implement conservation measures, including those that could reduce runoff into Lake Erie. The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative, a partnership among Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, has advanced to the next stage of consideration for a $20 million federal award – $13 million of which would go to Ohio.

Brown also announced plans to reintroduce the Clean Water Affordability Act, which would direct additional funding to communities in Ohio to eliminate combined sewer overflows, which are a contributing factor in harmful algal blooms. Brown first introduced this legislation with former Senator George V. Voinovich in 2008 and worked with local officials across Ohio to fine-tune the bill. Brown will reintroduce the bill this fall.