At the January 13, 2010, US EPA public hearing in Bryan, Ohio, for the MICHINDOH Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) which I attended, there were a number of farm families, elected officials and farm bureau representatives who expressed grave concerns that SSA designation would impact USDA cost-share funding to agricultural practices.
I have contacted Soil & Water Conservation Districts, NRCS District Conservationists and a Farm Services Agency in Miami, Montgomery, and Preble counties in southwest Ohio where they have had the Great Miami-Mad River Buried Valley Aquifer SSA designation for 23 years.
I am pleased to report that there is no impact or hold-up for distributing USDA cost-share funds for any farm whether in or out of the SSA boundary. This is also true for the Western Allen County (OH) SSA (1992) in northwest Ohio. I called the NRCS Ohio State Office and was told that not only would there be no hold-up for funds, but that there would be extra consideration for farms in the SSA boundaries. This agrees with information from Ohio EPA and US EPA as well.
Furthermore, rules and laws of Ohio would not be imposed on Michigan or Indiana. In addition, only under the SSA designation do private wells in rural areas get protection under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
This is the program that is implemented by state EPAs and DEQs which many at the hearing thought already protected them. Without designation, there is NO federal protection for private wells.
Also, the petition process creates a cost for replacement value for the aquifer that is certified by the federal government. This is a valuable and free insurance policy to everyone in the SSA boundaries. In case their ground water supply is contaminated, there is already a value established for the cost of replacement.
With this good news, I am sure that all of the farmers, local elected officials and farm bureau representatives will want to change their objections to one of full support. This is a great gift to all of the people of the MICHINDOH SSA.
– Julie Weatherington-Rice, PhD
Certified Professional Geologist
Certified Professional Soil Scientist