State environmental regulators are investigating more than a dozen farm manure spills that have seeped into creeks, rivers and ditches during the past two weeks.
Most of the spills reported to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency have been linked to farmers who had put livestock waste on frozen and snow-covered fields. The spills come at a time when state lawmakers are moving toward banning the practice in the state's agriculture belt.
Gov. John Kasich has called for the ban as one way to reduce the pollutants that are feeding the annual algae blooms on Lake Erie that contaminated the drinking water for 400,000 people in Ohio and Michigan last August.
Rising temperatures and melting snow, especially in the last few days, have caused the manure to run off the fields and pollute waterways in the western part of Ohio where agriculture dominates the economy.
Water samples near the spills have found very high ammonia levels that can harm fish, but so far there haven't been any large-scale fish kills, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said.
The reports of manure washing into streams in the last week are "certainly a significant number" and a cause for concern, he said.
"It's a little surprising after having all of the discussion over the past year and hearing that it's not best management practice to do this," Butler said.
Those responsible for the spills could face fines or be forced to pay the cleanup costs.
- I'm teaching externalities in my Principles of Food and Resource Economics class right now. Now I have a current example.
- That title was way too easy.
- My middle daughter has recently starting reading this blog (she reads the tweets). I'm going to owe a quarter to the swear jar for that title. For some reason my swear jar seems to fill up faster than most.