A coalition has developed a blueprint for improving the Ohio River and its tributaries. The Ohio River Basin Alliance (ORBA) has identified six goals, including clean water, healthy ecosystems, transportation and commerce, education, flood risk management and recreation.
Harry Stone chairs the alliance and says the report is a framework for moving forward.
"We don't have any mandates. There are no standards. There are no regulations in this. It's all about positive things that we can agree to. It's very much collaborative and consensus to this point." He says ORSANCO and the Army Corps of Engineers are on board, and ORBA has been working with governors and groups like the National Wildlife Federation.
Taking care of the basin will be expensive, Stone says, but worth it. He says there's already a model for comparison.
"The Great Lakes - in 2009, when this was brought to our attention - received more than $400 million that year for the restoration initiative," he says. "Over the 10 years since (the project) has received in excess of $3 billion for ecological restoration."
Stone says studies of the Great Lakes restoration show a high rate of return on the investment.
Climate change is expected to have an effect on the Ohio River and its tributaries - it is a key issue in the report. "ORBA worked with the Corps of Engineers back in 2017 to do a study that was published on climate adaptation for the Ohio River basin. That's providing some guidance on what can be done in these various areas to address the changing precipitation patterns."
He says the changes will come in the form of flooding and drought and will affect each of the goal areas.