H2Ohio and COSI Partner to Celebrate Clean Water Ahead of Earth Day

As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, agency directors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission (OLEC) partnered for a second year in a row with the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) for an early Earth Day celebration focusing on water.

“Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all Ohio has to offer with our beautiful lakes, rivers, and other waterways, and we appreciate the opportunity to partner with COSI to reach young Ohioans in a fun, engaging way,” said Governor DeWine. “Today is a perfect fit to highlight how H2Ohio is improving our waters and our communities with the next generation.”

Hundreds of community members, schools, and families visited COSI for a fun, interactive and educational day filled with hands-on learning opportunities for Central Ohio youth. The early Earth Day celebration featured outdoor farm animals, science experiments, live action displays and a chance to speak one on one with Ohio’s water quality experts.

“The Earth Day celebration at COSI was a tremendous success, thanks to the efforts of our dedicated partners,” said Dr. Frederic Bertley, President and CEO of COSI. “By immersing our guests in interactive exhibits and hands-on activities focused on environmental conservation, we aimed to inspire them to take an active role in safeguarding our planet for the future. From learning about clean water initiatives to exploring green career paths, our visitors left informed on how to make a meaningful difference in protecting the health of our shared home.”

Agency directors from OLEC, ODA, EPA and ODNR kicked off the program by providing hands-on presentations to help youth learn more about keeping Ohio’s waterways clean.

OLEC Executive Director Joy Mulinex opened with education about Ohio’s need for clean water and the impact it has on all Ohioans.

“Everyone in Ohio depends on clean and safe water every single day,” said OLEC Executive Director Joy Mulinex. “Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio program prioritizes work to improve water quality using the best science and data.”

OLEC oversees H2Ohio’s collaboration and implementation and engages with academic researchers to produce water quality models that inform the program’s decision making.

Agriculture’s portion of H2Ohio focuses on encouraging farmers to implement best management practices on their cropland. ODA Director Brian Baldridge spoke to the importance of agriculture’s role in protecting water quality. 

“Days like today make our jobs that much better, being able to share the tremendous conservation efforts agriculture has made with the younger generation tells them we care about our future,” said ODA Director Baldridge. “Earth Day at COSI is an exciting opportunity to teach youngsters about H2Ohio, which is improving soil health and water quality, both good business models in agriculture.”

Ohio’s farmers continue to show strong support for the H2Ohio program. ODA announced more than 1.8 million acres in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) are now enrolled in H2Ohio. The results of a recent signup period show a 32 percent increase in enrolled acres when compared to previous sign ups.

Ohio EPA improves the lives of those in our communities by installing needed water and sewer infrastructure and removing lead service lines. More than 76,000 Ohioans have been served by Ohio EPA’s H2Ohio projects, including work that removed lead service lines in daycares.

“Team Ohio EPA celebrates Earth Day, every day,” Ohio EPA Director, Anne Vogel, said. “Gathering at COSI with the H2Ohio agencies is a great opportunity for us to share with Ohio kids and families what we are doing – and what we all can do – to protect our most valuable natural resource.”

ODNR emphasized the impact natural infrastructure has on Ohio’s water quality and wildlife habitats and the importance of teaching the next generation to embrace good conservation habits.

 “H2Ohio helps protect Ohio’s great outdoors and it’s natural resources, which has been ODNR’s mission for 75 years,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We’re excited for our Earth Day celebration with COSI to plant the seeds of conservation for future generations.”

ODNR has 171 projects, either underway or completed, to restore more than 115,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat. Additionally, ODNR continues to connect middle and high school teachers and their students to real-world learning opportunities, access to wetland sites, and career exploration opportunities through their Students Take Action program.

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s initiative to ensure safe and clean water in Ohio. It is a comprehensive, data-driven approach to improving water quality over the long term. H2Ohio focuses on encouraging agricultural best management practices, restoring wetlands, and replacing home septic systems to reduce nutrients that contribute to harmful algal blooms. For more information on the H2Ohio initiative, please visit h2.ohio.gov.

Pictures, video and interviews from today’s event can be found here.