Monday, August 26, 2002

Clermont Co. residents discuss water

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

        OWENSVILLE - Sixteen people got together last week to discuss how to preserve one of this Clermont County community's most precious resources: water.

        The group, made up of residents and water-quality experts from the East Fork Watershed Collaborative, met Thursday night to discuss strategies for maintaining the Lower Stonelick and Brushy Fork Creek watershed, located in Stonelick Township and western Jackson Township.

        Issues raised at Thursday's meeting included investigating manure treatment and removal methods to prevent contamination; educating the public about septic system maintenance; and disposal of household and agricultural chemicals.

        After learning about the levels of bacteria in the water, Skeets Humphries, a Stonelick Township trustee, expressed his concerns about the environmental impact of horse farms in the township.

        “We welcome horse farms because it means fewer houses and less population,” Mr. Humphries said. “But we need to control the manure issues associated with those farms before it becomes a problem.”

        Faye Miller, who lives on a farm along Brushy Fork Creek, said one way to avoid contamination of the area's creeks and streams is to increase awareness about maintenance of septic systems.

        “I've lived in the country my whole life, and I've lived with a septic system my whole life,” Ms. Miller said. “For those who move out here from the city, who had city water and sewer, there's no education about how to care for a septic system. City people just don't realize what needs to be done.”

        Ms. Miller also had concerns about agricultural pollution and whether guidelines for reducing contamination can be enforced.

        “It is definitely (the farmer's) responsibility to be aware of their environmental effects,” Ms. Miller said. “But I also am aware that some farmers resent mandates imposed on them to follow these watershed guidelines. There are not a lot of volunteers among the farmers.”

        The watershed is one of 12 geographic areas targeted for specific planning by the collaborative. This was the second meeting of the conservation group with local citizens, and several more are planned in the East Fork region.

        “We felt it was important to bring these plans to the community and talk about the streams and creeks in their own backyard,” said Ryan Taylor, watershed coordinator for the East Fork of the Little Miami River for the Soil and Water Conservation District of Clermont County. “It's been really terrific. The public have come and provided us with additional comments, suggestions and ideas.”

        Additional proposals included:

        • Increased study of the impact the Cecos International waste facility in Marathon might have on the watershed.

        • Additional sampling to find the source of unusual levels of copper and lead in the area's water.

        Ms. Miller said she thought the meeting was productive and provided the township officials with the necessary information to craft zoning and planning guidelines while keeping the environment in mind.

        “I believe we have a group of different departments in the county that are seriously contemplating our environment,” she said. “I've seen them accomplish more in the last few years than in the 20 before that.”


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