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Rough waters ahead

Melissa Topey • Mar 17, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab may have to cut its programs and research.

The watchdog of Lake Erie was zeroed out of Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget when it was released in February, losing $285,000 per year in state funding.

But when matching funds of about $600,000 in federal funding are factored in, the amount is much larger.

“We could be losing close to $900,000,” said Jeff Reutter, Ohio Sea Grant director. “My job as director is to try to minimize that loss.”

He said he did not know if any programs and research would be eliminated but there would be less of everything.

An already stretched staff, including college students, perform research and monitor the water quality of Lake Erie.

The amount of monitoring of nutrient levels and deadly algal blooms would be reduced. Ohio Sea Grant is leading a state committee developing target amounts for phosphorous levels in Lake Erie. It’s believed that reducing phosphorus levels would help solve the continuing harmful algal bloom problem dangerous to humans, pets, fish and other animal life in and around the waters. 

Stone Lab also is coming up with new groundbreaking techniques to remove contaminants from drinking water. Classes would be cut back. There are about 20,000 people per year who visit Stone Lab, and those tours may be cut back. But Reutter is not giving that money up without a fight.

 “I testified last week in front of the Finance Committee,” he said, referring to an Ohio House panel.

 Sea Grant and Stone Lab provide vital information to decision makers about threats to the Great Lakes, such as algal blooms, water levels and invasive species.

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