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Request for Public Comment: Soil and Water Conservation - Watersheds in Distress

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is accepting comments regarding the proposed review and amendment of Ohio Administrative Code rules 901:13-1-(11,19, 20, and 99). The rules in this package have been reviewed pursuant to Chapter 119 of the Revised Code and are being proposed as follows. The comment period will remain open through October 5, 2018. Comments may be emailed to eComments@agri.ohio.gov or mailed to Legal Section, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

OAC 901:13-1-11 sets forth the rules and requirements for the land application of animal manure and nutrients in the state of Ohio. More specifically, the rule currently requires all Ohio farms to follow the conservation practices found in the relevant U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “Field Office Technical Guide,” also known as the “590 standards,” developed by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Farms within watersheds that have been designated as distressed are subject to the enforcement of 590 standards even if they have not experienced a discharge to waters of the state, and farms outside of watersheds that have been designated as distressed are subject to enforcement of 590 standards only if they experience a discharge. 

The proposed rule amendments would delay non-discharge enforcement of 590 standards in watersheds in distress to give farms sufficient time to comply. Finally, the proposed rules now mirror the existing standards in the Revised Code that govern the application of manure and fertilizer on frozen, snow-covered and rain-soaked ground in the Western Basin.  These standards were enacted in Senate Bill 1 of the 131st General Assembly. Further, the proposed rule removes the manure application prohibition window for Grand Lake Saint Marys.

OAC 901:13-1-19 outlines the nutrient management planning requirements for watersheds in distress. The rule has been amended to require all owners, operators, or persons responsible for applying nutrients on more than fifty acres on an annual basis within a watershed in distress to develop a nutrient management plan in accordance with the rule. The rule outlines the information that must be included within the nutrient management plan. In addition, based on stakeholder comments, the rule has been amended to require the Department to conduct an audit of at least 5% of the attestations submitted to determine compliance regarding completion of nutrient management plans.

OAC 901:13-1-20 states that the director may designate watersheds in distress. No changes have been proposed to this rule.

OAC 901:13-1-99 establishes the schedule of civil penalties for violations to Chapter 901:13-1 of the Ohio Administrative Code. The rule has been amended to update a paragraph reference due to the proposed amendments to OAC 901:13-1-19.