Portage County Protect Your Water Workshop

The Portage Soil & Water Conservation District is responsible for protecting the natural resources within the county. As such, they’re motivated to help local residents make wise choices to help reduce erosion and pollutants in local streams and rivers. To that end, they’re working with other agencies to provide workshops on how local residents can help improve water quality while potentially improving property value, as well.

Last year, Ohio passed new legislation for home septic systems, which may make the permit process for a new build more stringent. To help people make sense of the changes, the Portage County Health Department is hosting a workshop titled “Septic Systems 101 for Homeowners” on Thursday, May 19th at 6 pm at the Portage County Engineer’s Office (5000 Newton Falls Road in Ravenna).

For existing homeowners, if your current system fails, you may encounter challenges in replacing your old system with the same kind of drain field system. While each case differs, depending on soil types, land slopes, and nearness to water sources, complying with these septic changes may be costly. “It’s a hot topic,” shared Portage SWCD Storm Water Educator Lynn Vogel. “Last year, we held a septic workshop at Maplewood where we had 40 folks register, and 119 show up!” Plan to attend to learn more about the new requirements at this free event but reserve your spot; due to space limitations, registration is required.

Storm water run-off during rain events transports pollutants like lawn fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, soil sediment and even sewage from poorly functioning home septic systems into our ditches and streams. Portage County has an abundance of freshwater resources being polluted during rain events as a result of poor land management decisions. Local organizations are teaming up to provide multiple opportunities for local residents to learn more about how they can better manage their landscapes to protect our fragile waters.

Kent Environmental Council has provided funds for an “Edible Riparians” workshop that will be held in May in cooperation with the Kent Parks and Recreation. The term riparian means adjacent to or living on a stream. One of the primary benefits of a riparian area is that it holds soil in place.  According to Vogle, “Healthy riparian zones feature a diverse mix of woody shrubs, trees and herbaceous perennials and native grasses. Neatly clipped turf grass is not adequate vegetation to allow these riparian areas to function as flood plains or to allow these land areas to hold soil in place.”  During storms, the eroding soil washes away, carrying away vital nutrients, while leaching pollutants such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides into local streams and rivers. Many native plants that grow well in riparian zones provide food for wildlife, and  for people, as well. Edible Riparian workshop participants will learn about some of the food plants that thrive in riparian zones, although many plants will grow well in non-riparian zones too.

The workshop will be held on May 21st from 1 to 4 pm at the Portage SWCD office (6970 State Route 88 in Ravenna). Portage SWCD & Portage County Master Gardeners will co-host this event. Key speaker, John Kelsey, a nut grower and researcher, will provide a presentation about growing hazelnuts, as will Larry Rogers, an avid paw paw grower and researcher. Bob Stehli of Wintergreen Tree Farm will also be on hand to answer questions about growing blueberries.  To promote healthy soil and water practices, each workshop attendee will receive a generous plant package, which will include crop-grade hazelnuts, elderberries, blueberries and aronias, and conservation grade paw paws. There is a participant cost-share fee of $20.00 to attend this informative event.

Visit www.portageswcd.org  and click “What’s New” for more information, or to download workshop registration forms.