2022 Edition of Statewide Watershed Nutrient Study Released

December 23, 2022 – Ohio EPA has released its 2022 Nutrient Mass Balance study.

The study, required to be issued every two years under House Bill 64 (passed in 2015), examines phosphorus and other nutrients from agricultural and other nonpoint sources, municipal and industrial wastewater systems, and home sewage treatment systems, which make up the majority of nutrient sources. This is the fourth version of the study. It encompasses 13 watersheds across the state, which drain 73 percent of Ohio’s land area: Cedar-Toussaint, Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Hocking, Huron, Little Miami, Maumee, Muskingum, Old Woman Creek, Portage, Sandusky, Scioto, and Vermilion. 

Highlights from the 2022 report include:

•    The Hocking and Little Miami rivers’ watersheds were added to this version of the study.
•    U.S. Census 2020 results are used to update the human population which improves various calculations. 
•    Averaged over the last five years, the largest annual nonpoint sources of phosphorus were in the Maumee and Scioto rivers’ watersheds.
•    Nutrient loads from point sources (wastewater treatment plants plus home sewage systems) continue to be higher in the Ohio River basin than the Lake Erie basin.

State and federal dollars, including Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Initiative, continue to be allocated to nutrient reduction efforts to address both point and nonpoint sources in many of the watersheds referenced in the report, especially those in the Western Lake Erie basin. Governor DeWine created H2Ohio in 2019 as a comprehensive, data-driven approach to combatting algal blooms, enhancing water quality, and improving water infrastructure over the long term. H2Ohio was launched with support from the Ohio General Assembly, which invested in the program in Ohio’s two most recent operating budgets. H2Ohio operates in partnership between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. The initiative focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring and enhancing wetlands, upgrading outdated water infrastructure, and replacing lead pipes. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.

Over time, the nutrient study results will assist the state in identifying the most environmentally beneficial and cost-effective policies and priority areas for implementation to reduce phosphorus and other nutrients affecting state waters. The study aids in tracking progress to goals established by the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force 2001 Action Plan.