Changes should not hamper water program

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials are adamant that proposed changes to the state’s water quality monitoring program would not diminish the program. In fact, “We see it really as more of an enhancement,” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie Stevenson.

We hope that is the case. It is easy to see how some environmentalist organizations are interpreting the proposed changes negatively. They would fold the state’s 98 watersheds now surveyed into 37 “project areas,” which the agency says would allow for more frequent testing of fewer areas. The changes would also mean researchers will conduct a probability survey to estimate water quality at the state level.

Chris Yoder is research director for the Midwest Biodiversity Institute and a former Ohio EPA employee who helped develop the current system.

“They will no longer be doing as many investigations of pollution sources, or at least not as effectively as was done before,” he told the Columbus Dispatch.

There will be time for the public to give feedback before the agency will “figure out how we move forward in the best way that we also feel is going to be protective,” according to Stevenson. But it is often difficult to alter government action once changes have been decided.

If many of the waterways that will be eliminated from the list are those that were added as part of a larger national effort to use water quality as an excuse to punish those on whom the previous administration had unofficially declared war, fine. But any changes made to the way in which we protect our precious resources must, indeed, be an enhancement — a way to better get the job done, not to do a little less of the job.


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