The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) held a virtual public meeting on July 1st to answer questions about the proposed clean water plan that would serve as a 20-year roadmap for wastewater management and water quality.
The plan, Clean Water 2020, is an update to the NOACA’s current wastewater management plan which was released in 2000. Updated every 20 years, Clean Water 2020 is part of Ohio’s statewide water quality management plan which is required by federal law. NOACA is the environmental and transportation planning agency for the region and is tasked by the state to develop the regional water plan.
The proposed plan aims to maintain water quality improvements, protect and restore water, and help manage stormwater runoff and sewage treatment systems across the region. With the region having a shrinking population spaced out across a wide area, there are fewer people to pay for infrastructure improvements which are desperately needed. The plan suggests to combat this problem by focusing on making improvements to existing infrastructure first and discouraging new development on unused land.
Clean Water 2020 also addresses the toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, caused by phosphorus from fertilizer and manure runoff. The algae blooms have become a growing problem in the region as the presence has increased over the last 10 years. The annual summer algal blooms can render water undrinkable, and lead to beach closures.
“Phosphorus and algal blooms increase risks to human health and water quality; result in unstable fish communities; degrade habitats and disruptions in the food web; contaminate beaches and lead to closures,” the plan reads. They also increase costs to protect drinking water and rehab recreational areas, the plan says. Strides made to address water pollution from known sources, like pipes or ditches, have been set back by runoff pollution, which is harder to tackle. “Nutrient reduction has become a priority for the State of Ohio for Lake Erie and interior lakes,” the plan reads.
 Kilpatrick, Mary. “NOACA Proposes New 20-Year Blueprint for Wastewater Management and Water Quality.” Cleveland.com, 30 June 2020, https://www.cleveland.com/metro/2020/06/noaca-proposes-new-20-year-blueprint-for-wastewater-management-and-water-quality.html
Photo Credit: Shutterstock