(3-3-23) As part of Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is awarding $4.2 million in grants for 12 two-stage ditch projects.

ODA Director Brian Baldridge

“We are keeping our foot on the gas pedal to reach our nutrient reduction goals. These projects will provide water quality benefits that complement the other best management practices offered through H2Ohio.”

Six county engineers and six Soil and Water Conservation Districts will receive funds to construct or improve two-stage ditches. Recipients will receive up to 100 percent of requested funding for these projects.

Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District was awarded $585,000 to construct 2-stage ditches to reduce nutrients that can cause toxic algae blooms. Both of the ditches are located in northern Mercer County, the Schwieterman-Baldauf Ditch and the Houts Ditch.

More than 18,000 acres of watershed will benefit from the 8.4 miles of two-stage ditch projects. Construction of these projects will begin this summer, and all projects must be completed by Fall 2024.

Eleven of the 12 projects are located in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

The two-stage ditch became the eighth best management practice offered through ODA’s portion of H2Ohio. A two-stage ditch is a conservation practice that modifies the shape of a drainage ditch to create vegetation benches on each side. Two-stage ditches provide benefits such as slowing water flow, reducing maintenance costs, and improving water quality.

H2Ohio is Governor 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. It is a collaboration between ODA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Ohio EPA. H2Ohio focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring wetlands, and improving water infrastructure to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.