The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

Environmental organizations in Ohio last week were applauding the delivery of recommendations for implementing the Great Lakes Basin Compact to Gov. Ted Strickland and the state legislature but were calling it only a “critical first step” that lacks significant guidance on how to implement a water management program.

The Compact, which went into effect two years ago and requires each Great Lakes state to develop conservation and water management programs, contains broad guidelines, leaving the states to fill in the details for implementation.

An advisory board of environmental groups, utility companies, manufacturers, farming interests, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, negotiated for months to compile recommendations for Ohio lawmakers.

Kristy Meyer, director of agricultural and clean water programs for the Ohio Environmental Council and a participant in the board’s negotiations, said many critical issues remain unresolved and will require a lot of work in the legislature next year.

Despite a sluggish recession across the nation, Oregon has seen some investment in the local economy in the last 12 months.

Gary Thompson, executive director of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, said the city has seen new retail, the construction and opening of a new BP-Husky quality assurance laboratory, and more business inquiries about industrial development.

BP-Husky built the quality assurance laboratory at DuPont and Cedar Point roads to replace a former lab that was antiquated, said Thompson. “It was built by local employees and opened on October 26,” he said.

The lab, which tests fuel, took 12 months to build.

“It’s a very beautiful place,” he said.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has released draft rule revisions for water quality goals for waterways in eight of the state’s 23 drainage basins, including the Portage River basin.

To meet goals outlined in the federal Clean Water Act for attaining suitable conditions for fishing and swimming, the Ohio EPA periodically updates the water quality standards to reflect current scientific data. The agency is basing its proposed rule changes on sampling conducted from 2007 through last year.

The on-going monitoring schedule includes surveys of the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of the water bodies to determine the present condition and appropriate uses.

Other basins covered by the proposed revisions, include those spanning the Sandusky, Grand, Huron, Great Miami, Muskingum, and Mahoning rivers and Mill Creek.

By Spring, expect a three-year-old demonstration garden of native plants at Lutheran Homes Assisted Living to begin attracting butterflies, songbirds, and hummingbirds.

The garden is also helping clean the area’s water supply.

“It really looked good this year. It takes a while for a native garden to get established,” said Sue Horvath, chairperson of the Ducks and Otter Creek Partnership.

“All the plants are native. They have deep roots,” Horvath continued. “One of the neatest things about native plants is they don’t require fertilizer or irrigation so that when you put them in you are not going to have to do things to keep those plants going that will endanger the wetlands. All the native plants are of great benefit to our water supply.”

Oregon City Council last Monday approved a 30-year Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement with BP-Husky Refining.

The joint agreement would exempt real property taxation of BP, and allow the city to finance infrastructure projects, including the relocation of Cedar Point Road to the south between Otter Creek and Wynn roads, estimated to cost between $10 million and $20 million, and improvements to the Amolsch-Driftmeyer Ditch, estimated to cost $5 million.

According to the agreement, taxes attributable to increased property values at BP would be set aside in a fund to finance public improvements within the boundaries of the TIF zone. So instead of BP paying taxes on increased property value, the money would go into a fund associated with the TIF that would help pay for the public improvements. There would be development agreements between the city and BP to proceed on the projects.

“The development agreement spells out how Oregon and BP will work together over time on the common projects - what are the things the city needs to do for the broader city interests, and what are the things that are just BP interests,” Administrator Mike Beazley said after the meeting. “And we divide those up and make sure we get it done right.”

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