Ohio legislation eases state regulation of some streams

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State regulation of streams that flow temporarily after rainfall would be restricted under proposed Ohio legislation months in the works.

Construction companies, the mining industry and other business groups say removing so-called ephemeral streams from regulation would make Ohio’s practice consistent with federal law.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency created a permitting system for development projects affecting ephemeral streams after the government removed them from federal oversight in 2020 and left their regulation up to states.

The EPA says about 36,500 miles of the state’s 115,200 miles of primary headwater streams are ephemeral streams.

Environmental groups largely oppose the legislation, saying the streams play an important role in maintaining water quality. They also question why Ohio would remove the streams from regulation at the same time it’s spending millions to improve water quality under Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative.

The Ohio Senate approved the measure late last month along partisan lines. Some environmental groups softened their criticism after the Senate revised the bill to focus only on streams not already regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The bill returns to the House for consideration of Senate changes.

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