A new practice has been installed in Defiance County as a way to increase water retention, reduce runoff and reduce phosphorus-laden sediment.
Cascading grassed waterways are a new practice designed to combine traditional practices of grassed waterways and wetlands in one practice. Cascading waterways are another tool to help reduce phosphorus from leaving agricultural fields and creating harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
Waterways reduce soil erosion and also capture large amounts of sediment containing particulate phosphorus, which fuels phosphorus-feeding algae. Waterways also act as a buffer between fertilized cropland and streams.
Wetlands installed within a grassed waterway help to add retention. These areas hold water until it evaporates or infiltrates the soil. Wetlands also capture sediment, but they have the added benefit of reducing dissolved reactive phosphorus, which is water soluble and not tied to a soil particle.
Previously, cascading grassed waterways were only being used in the Chesapeake Bay region. Defiance SWCD, with the assistance of the Defiance County commissioners and OSU Extension-Defiance County, have installed the first in Ohio. Several counties in northwest Ohio have followed suit and installed cascading waterways in order to combat extensive runoff. As of now, these practices do not fit within current FSA and NRCS programs.
Anyone with questions about cascading grassed waterways or other practices that can help to reduce sediment and nutrients entering streams may contact the Defiance SWCD. Those who want to see the practice can find it behind the Defiance County Humane Society on Ohio 15 near the airport.