COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director Mary Mertz announced Wednesday that $5 million in H2Ohio grant funding will be directed to 13 wetland projects in 11 counties, including to the city of Piqua, to help improve water quality in the Ohio River Basin.
“We are excited to continue the expansion of H2Ohio’s work into the Ohio River Basin and to take the next big step toward naturally improving water quality across Ohio,” said DeWine. “Water issues expand beyond Lake Erie, so by focusing this funding farther south, we can address water challenges on a bigger scale and help ensure that people throughout the state can experience the benefits of these wetlands.”
The city of Piqua will be receiving a grant of $500,000 for the Franz Pond Ditch Bankfull Detention Swale for the purpose of floodplain restoration.
In July, the Piqua City Commission awarded a contract to Strand Associates Inc. for design of the Franz Ditch swale. According to city staff, Franz Ditch, which starts just north of the intersection of Sunset and High and flows into Franz Pond, has been causing an issue for over a decade. The erosion there has been contributing over 180 tons of sediment every year into Franz Pond, which is part of the city’s drinking water source. The erosion problem is also threatening private property.
City staff explained the 500-linear-foot swale will be constructed on property owned by Piqua Baptist Church, on High Street. The swale will have two connections to Franz Ditch. When that water rises during a storm event, the flood waters will move into the swale, and then over the course of 72 hours, it will either soak into the ground or slowly move back out into the ditch once that storm has passed, city staff said.
DeWine announced the launch of the Ohio River Basin H2Ohio Wetland Grant Program in July. The program provides up to $500,000 for wetland projects that address nutrient loading and contribute to water quality improvement in the Ohio River and its tributaries.
In addition to the award going to the city of Piqua, awards will also go to projects in Butler, Greene, Franklin, Hamilton, Holmes, Mahoning, Medina, Montgomery, Wayne, and Warren counties. Each project will create wetlands, restore wetlands on hydric soils, and/or enhance water quality at existing wetlands and floodplains.
“We’ve seen a ton of success in northwest Ohio, and I am thrilled to see the H2Ohio initiative expand into the Ohio River Basin,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We are really excited to add to the growing list of H2Ohio wetlands and share the benefits of these projects with everyone across the state.”
Wetlands help improve water quality by trapping, filtering, and removing excess pollutants and nutrients, like phosphorus, from the water before they flow into waterways and contribute to harmful algal blooms. Right now, there are more than 70 H2Ohio wetland projects underway.
The Ohio River Basin H2Ohio Wetland Grant Program is funded as part of Ohio’s 2022-2023 operating budget, which was passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by DeWine earlier this year.
H2Ohio is DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water in Ohio. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term. H2Ohio focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, and replacing home septic systems to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, visit h2.ohio.gov.