As primary conveyors of water in the Lake Erie watershed, agricultural drainage ditches play a role in the identified problem of high levels of agricultural sediment loading in Lake Erie. However, legal and policy barriers in Ohio hinder our ability to address the relationship between drainage ditches, sediment loading, and other water quality concerns. Recommendations in this report focus on resolving the inherent conflicts between agricultural ditch laws and water quality policy. Relying upon a series of discussions with drainage and water quality experts throughout the state, the authors recommend legal and policy changes to institutionalize improved drainage construction and maintenance practices, suggest incentives for such practices, and address the disparities between water quality standards and agricultural drainage ditches.
By Lawrence Libby