Taking the long view on a valuable resource

Abundant water - for households, recreation, farming and industry - is a major reason why Ohio is a great place to live and do business. Our rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers are central to the well-being of families, businesses and communities.

The Healthy Water Ohio initiative aims to develop a long-range plan that will sustainably meet current and future water needs while enhancing the economy and quality of life for all Ohioans.

This grassroots initiative will be comprehensive and collaborative.

male and female couple smiling while gardeningtwo females wearing life jackets while canoeing

Getting ahead of the challenges

The risks to Ohio's water quantity and quality are many and diverse.

Stressors include an expanding population, growth of water-dependent industries (including manufacturing, energy and food), urban and rural development and changing climate patterns.

Policy choices at the federal, state, local and international levels also expose Ohioans to the risks of unintended consequences.

body of waterfather and son playing in the pool

A step-by-step action plan

A diverse group of stakeholders is committed to developing a comprehensive plan of action.

Among the major steps:

  • Solicit input from the public, stakeholders, organizations and others to identify water resource issues that Ohioans care about and want to see addressed.
  • Evaluate the ability of Ohio's water resources to meet short-term and long-term needs.
  • Identify and evaluate Ohio's unique economic, social, and environmental opportunities related to an abundant water resource.
  • Explore the drivers of change impacting Ohio water resources in the present, short-term and long-term.
  • Determine possible solutions to address the water resource challenges.
  • Implement a unified strategy that allows stakeholders to improve and protect the state's water resources.
blue heronlake erieshower head with flowing water

About Healthy Water Ohio

In November 2013, Ohio Farm Bureau convened a diverse partnership of stakeholders from conservation, business and industry, universities, water suppliers, agriculture and others to lead the development of a 20- to 30-year Ohio water resource management strategy.

The result of this work will be a set of recommendations that provide a foundation for future actions. A report is to be completed by summer 2015.

This proactive initiative addresses water quality and quantity challenges and opportunities in a collaborative fashion to benefit all Ohioans.

A 16-member steering committee is leading a variety of stakeholders/organizations in issue-specific working groups to provide guidance for the strategic planning process. Data from public polling is enhancing the group's effort. Specific issues being studied include:

  • water quality challenges
  • water use (quantity)
  • data collection and analysis
  • economic impacts
  • infrastructure
  • natural hazards (including weather patterns)

The following organizations are committed to the wise use of Ohio's water resources and have made significant contributions to the launch of the HWO initiative.

  • AgriBank
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Farm Credit Mid-America
  • Ohio Cattlemen's Association
  • Ohio Corn Marketing Program
  • Ohio Dairy Producers Association/ADA Mideast
  • Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
  • Ohio Soybean Council
  • Ohio State University
crop irrigationgolf course sprinklersglass bottlesfather and daughter fishing

Ohio's water resources

  • 60,000 miles of rivers and streams
  • 312 miles of Erie coastline
  • 425 miles of Ohio River shoreline
  • More than 125,000 lakes, reservoirs and ponds covering nearly 265,000 acres
  • 942,000 acres of wetlands
boats on the beachbarge

The importance of water to Ohio's economy

Swipe left and right to view the table

Major water consumers*
Electric power generation8,930,000,000 gallons/day
77.6% of Ohio's total
Public and domestic consumption1,579,000,000 gallons/day
13.7% of Ohio's total
Industrial production703,000,000 gallons/day
6.1% of Ohio's total
Mining174,000,000 gallons/day
1.5% of Ohio's total
Irrigation (farm and recreational)42,6000,000 gallons/day 0.37% of Ohio's total
Livestock and aquaculture33,570,000 gallons/day
0.29% of Ohio's daily
Non-consumptive uses
Cargo shippingOhio ports handle 95.5 million short tons—8th in the nation
Fishing$2.9 billion in annual economic impact
Ohio tourism$38 billion in annual economic impact

*United States Geological Survey

Water enhances Ohioans' quality of life

  • 3.1 million Ohioans (27%) live within 10 miles of Lake Erie or the Ohio River

  • 450,018 registered watercraft, making Ohio a top 10 state

  • More than 800,000 fishing licenses sold annually

  • 466,890 privately owned swimming pools and hot tubs

  • 778 miles of designated scenic rivers

Steering Committee

Business and Industry

  • Scott Corbitt, Anheuser-Busch – Columbus Brewery
  • Chris Henney, Ohio AgriBusiness Association

Conservation and Environmental Advocacy

  • Mindy Bankey, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Don Hollister, Ohio League of Conservation Voters
  • John Stark, The Nature Conservancy


  • Wendy Osborn, Farm Credit Mid-America

Food and Farming

  • Frank Phelps, Ohio Cattlemen's Association
  • John Linder, Ohio Corn Marketing Program
  • Matt Andreas, Ohio Dairy Producers Association
  • Steve Hirsch, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
  • Terry McClure, Ohio Soybean Council

Lawn, Horticultural, Turf

  • Ann Aquillo, Scotts Miracle-Gro

Municipal Water Systems

  • Jack Williams, Village of Ottawa

Public Health

  • Timothy Angel, Association of Ohio Health Commissioners

Recreation and Tourism

  • Larry Fletcher, Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Research, Education and Outreach

  • Bruce McPheron, The Ohio State University

Project facilitator

Annie Gallagher, 614-854-9658 | [email protected]

Technical adviser

Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation 614-246-8264 | [email protected]