Distressed Watershed Authority
In December 2010 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) revised rules for the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Program (APAP). These rules establish state standards for a level of management and conservation practices in farming and animal feeding operations in order to abate excessive soil erosion or the pollution of waters of the state by soil sediment and animal manure. The newly revised APAP rules included provisions for a “Watershed in Distress.” In January 2016 the APAP authority was transferred from ODNR to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).
What is a Distressed Watershed?
A Watershed in Distress is a watershed, which has aquatic life and health that is impaired by nutrients from agricultural land uses. Threats to public health, drinking water supplies, recreation, and public safety are also taken into consideration when a watershed is designated in distress. Upon any such designation the ODA Director may set specific requirements for the storage, handling and land application of manure and require nutrient management plans for land and operations within the designated watershed boundaries.
Grand Lake St. Marys Rules
The Grand Lake St. Marys (GLSM) Watershed was designated as a watershed in distress on January 18, 2011 by ODNR with the required consent of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission. The rules were phased in to allow time for farm operations to develop nutrient management plans and make management changes as needed to comply with the rules.
As of January 18, 2011, farm owners/operators, animal manure applicators or those responsible for applying manure in the GLSM watershed shall:
- Follow the USDA NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (standard 590) when land applying manure.
As of December 15, 2012 and thereafter farm owners/operators or person(s) responsible for producing, applying, or receiving in excess of 350 tons and/or 100,000 gallons of manure on an annual basis shall develop and operate in conformance with a nutrient management plan. This plan must address the method, amount, form, placement, cropping system and timing of all nutrient applications. Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) and the Ohio State University Nutrient Management Workbooks are both acceptable plan formats and can be submitted for approval with up to date information. This plan shall be submitted to the ODA Director or the director’s designee for review and approval. After plan approval, nutrient management plans shall be updated as conditions change and every three years. If you do not have a nutrient management plan, the local SWCD can assist you with plan development options for your operation.
As of January 19, 2013 farm owners/operators, animal manure applicators or those responsible for applying manure in the GLSM watershed shall:
- Not apply manure between December 15th and March 1st without prior approval from the Director for each application.
- Keep records of manure storage volumes and ensure 120 days of storage is available on December 1st of each year.
- Not surface apply manure if the local weather forecast for the land application area contains greater than 50% chance of exceeding ½” precipitation extending 24 hours after the projected start of the application of manure.
- Not surface apply manure on frozen ground or ground covered with more than 1” of snow outside of the December 15th and March 1st dates. (Outside those dates manure may be applied if it is injected or incorporated within 24 hours.)
Compliance with the New Rules
A complete list of the Nutrient Management Planning Requirements for Watersheds in Distress can be found in Ohio Administrative Code 901:13-1-19. Farm owners/operators or those responsible that do not follow or comply with these rules are subject to civil penalties and possible enforcement action by ODA.