LONDON, Ohio – Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) announced a wide-ranging water quality initiative today at the Farm Science Review.
Called Field to Faucet, the initiative will seek end-to-end solutions to hazardous algal blooms and water quality issues, said Bruce McPheron, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean for the college, speaking to a crowd of 700 people at the Review’s opening day lunch.
“Toledo was a wake-up call,” McPheron said. “Just over a month ago, the city of Toledo awoke to the news that parents could not draw water from their taps for their children. Restaurants were shuttered, parks were closed, citizens wondered whether to eat food washed in tap water and whether to shower.”
McPheron pulled together a university-wide group to address the source of the problems and to ensure clean drinking water across Ohio.
“Ohio State University, with its comprehensive capacity, is well positioned to lead the way in providing answers,” he said. “But we don’t feel tackling this alone is sufficient, and it’s clear there are other pockets of excellence. We’re putting in the $1 million to get the effort off the ground, and we’ll continue to look for partnerships to leverage that.”
Already, discussions have taken place with the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Heidelberg University, Central State University, Kent State University and Case Western Reserve University within Ohio, as well as Michigan State University, Purdue University, the University of Michigan and Pennsylvania State University.
Other partners are critical as well, McPheron said, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, which just announced a water quality initiative last week, the Ohio Board of Regents, which has pledged $2 million to address the problem, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The next steps are to identify key topic areas and programs, McPheron said, including improved water treatment, edge-of-field nutrient management, biological control of algae and issues in the Lake Erie basin.