By Karen Vance
BATAVIA - Clermont County took a big step Thursday toward cleaner water.
The county commissioners approved a comprehensive storm water management plan covering nine of the county's 14 townships, the villages of Amelia, Batavia and Owensville, the city of Milford and the park district.
The plan, which addresses everything from public education about storm water and runoff to pollution prevention methods, is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"This is a plan to improve the storm water quality and to look at what is running off in our storm water into our streams," said Paul Braasch, coordinator of the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality. "The plan is only a start"
The plan will be reviewed by the EPA.
Commissioner Mary Walker said the plan has a strong educational component to raise citizens' awareness of the impact runoff from their properties has on the quality of water in the streams and rivers in the county.
The plan also calls for a study of how communities use salt on the roads during the winter and its impact on runoff, she said.
But the major impact will be on future development, with guidelines on best construction practices, she said.
However, the process of adopting the plan, which had an EPA-imposed deadline of Monday, has not come without controversy.
It will cost about $9,200, or $100 per square mile of land, for the EPA permit. That cost will be split by the participants. It will also require townships and villages to map storm water patterns, said Ray Sebastian, who headed the committee that developed the plan.
At the Miami Township Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, Trustee Joe Uecker "reluctantly" seconded a motion to adopt the plan with the understanding that it didn't yet carry a financial commitment.
The township, which estimates the cost of mapping alone at between $2,080 and $5,400, had the option of participating in the county's plan or adopting its own.
"I would hope the commissioners are not putting a revolver to our heads and asking us to sign a blank check," Uecker said.
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