County takes steps to reduce harmful algal blooms

BATAVIA, OH (July 29, 2020) – Clermont County has taken another step in its effort to lessen harmful algal blooms (HABs) at Harsha Lake: Designing a system to capture storm water rich with fertilizer nutrients that feed the blooms.

The Board of County Commissioners on July 18 approved a two-year, $42,400 contract with Sustainable Streams of Louisville to design a passive wetland system in Williamsburg for Harsha Lake sourcewater protection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, HABs are the rapid growth of cyanobacteria that can cause harm to animals, people, and the local ecology. A HAB can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of water and can be different colors. Particularly large HABs can result in beach closures and prevent recreational use.

“Wetlands have a natural ability to remove nutrients from surface water,” said Hannah Lubbers, Director, Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality. “Our study of a small scale constructed wetland in Jackson Township indicated they can be a cost-effective method of reducing nutrient pollution.”

Installation of wetlands, in combination with other agricultural and urban best management practices (BMPs), is part of the sourcewater and watershed protection programs being implemented by the East Fork Water Quality Cooperative (EFWC).

Partners of the cooperative, including Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District, the County Commissioners, and the USEPA, aggressively pursue grant funding  to improve local water quality and to date have directed over $2.25-million dollars to the watershed, including $215,500 set aside for construction of the wetland in Williamsburg. The EFWC partners also combine agency resources and technical services to advance watershed efforts.

“Harsha Lake is a valuable resource for county residents and we are working hard to preserve that resource,” Lubbers said. “The Williamsburg project will provide invaluable water quality data and information to aid watershed efforts across the region and Ohio.”