Lawmakers seek to protect drinking water

Good luck to state Reps. David Leland and Michael Stinziano, who have introduced a bill to restore municipal control of the buffer zones around public water sources such as reservoirs.

The shores of municipal water supplies are municipal property, and often city officials allow a band of vegetation to grow up along the shoreline to reduce the amount of lawn and farm fertilizer that makes its way into the water. This helps reduce levels of nitrates and toxic algae in public water supplies.

But waterfront homeowners in Columbus complained that these strips inhibit their views and access to the water; they said they were being hounded for mowing the grass, building docks and making other alterations to the shoreline.

“People were being harassed by city of Columbus Division of Water folks,” said Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, who was among the lawmakers who successfully added a provision to the most recent state budget that allows homeowners to mow and make other changes along the shoreline.

That is a mistake. Cities around the state, including Columbus, are experiencing repeated problems with unsafe nitrate levels and toxic algae. They have gone to court to try to undo the budget provision.

Rather than wait for the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to fix this mistake, Leland and Stinziano, both Democrats, would restore municipal control of the buffer zones.

At a committee hearing, Stinziano said Columbus officials have assured him that the situation with the “off-putting” Columbus employee has been dealt with.

The Columbus Dispatch Editorial

Tuesday November 24, 2015