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1404 Goodale Boulevard, Suite 100
Columbus, OH 43212
Phone: (614) 486-9613
Fax: (614) 486-9614

Local Governments

These blog posts cover timely topics in stormwater mangement of interest to townships and local governments.

2016 Board of Supervisors’ Election Results

Chris Wible has been re-elected to the Board of Supervisors of Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District at a public election held September 15, 2016 at the Boathouse at Confluence Park, 679 W. Spring Street, Columbus, Ohio. The two candidates for one open seat were Anuja Sriparameswaran, MD and Chris Wible.

Mr. Wible is the Director of U.S. Manufacturing Quality & Continuous Improvement at Scotts Miracle-Gro. He previously led Scotts’ Environmental Stewardship Program where he collaborated with federal, state, and local water quality organizations to address urban stormwater and nutrient management issues. Chris is actively working with conservation districts across Ohio to enable districts to share information and ideas, build relationships, and leverage the unique strengths and resources of each district to implement urban programming.

“We had two excellent candidates for this year’s election. We are excited that Mr. Wible will be able to continue his work representing Franklin Soil and Water at the State and National level. We also hope to retain Dr. Sriparameswaran on our Associate Board of Supervisors. She is passionate about environmental issues and has been a great advocate for Franklin Soil and Water. She also adds a different perspective with valuable knowledge as a pediatrician. ” said Jennifer Fish, Director of Franklin Soil and Water.

Enabled under Ohio Revised Code 940, soil and water conservation districts are subdivisions of the State of Ohio organized along county boundaries. Franklin Soil and Water officially began its work to improve and protect Franklin County soil and water resources on May 11, 1946 as a result of action by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Dust Bowl. Since then, the Board of Supervisors and staff have presented yearly updates on programs and accomplishments to Franklin County residents and landowners.

The five-member Board of Supervisors is the governing body of Franklin Soil and Water. Supervisors must own land or reside in Franklin County. They serve, unpaid, for three-year terms as elected public officials. Franklin Soil and Water receives non-mandated funding from the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, local municipalities and from the state as match funding.

Published: September 19th, 2016

Important Feedback Needed

Every three years, the Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors and staff go through a strategic planning process. In addition to the standard SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment, we take a close look at our current programs and brainstorm new ideas. Then begins the hard work of comparing the SWOT findings with current and possible programs.

We are asking our key partners including local government elected officials and staff members, engineers, planners, and local watershed groups for their opinions and ideas. Let us know how you have interacted with Franklin Soil and Water and what you would like to see from us in the future.

Obviously, funding and Ohio Revised Code limit any agency’s scope, but within these constraints, how would you like us to improve our performance in promoting “responsible land-use decisions for the conservation, protection and improvement of soil and water resources by providing information assistance through effective partnering, technical guidance and education.”

Your opinion matters! Your input will help guide the direction of our agency for the next 3 years. Please review and complete the 2016 Strategic Plan Survey to Partners and return by email to Dorothy Park. Call (614) 486-9613, with any questions.

Published: July 8th, 2016

First of its Kind Blue Roof will Reduce Water Pollution and Flooding

Eco-friendly development is a key element of Grove City’s growth objectives as one of central Ohio’s fastest-growing suburbs. When Grove City encountered maintenance challenges including interior water leaks caused by the flat-basin roof design at the Grove City Safety Complex, site of the city’s Division of Police and Mayor’s Court, city officials sought an eco-friendly solution. The low impact development (LID) technique selected was a blue roof supplemented by rain gardens.

Blue roofs exploit natural processes to manage and filter pollutants in stormwater in urban areas dominated by hard surfaces such as streets, sidewalks, driveways and roofs. This LID technique decreases the quantity and force of water flowing from downspouts. Less stormwater entering streams and rivers reduces the risks of erosion, nutrient pollution and flooding.

Blue roofs are comprised of several layers of stone and fabric that hold rainwater allowing time for evaporation before water enters the downspouts. The remaining water channels through downspouts to a complex system of underground pipes ending in a permeable, subterranean stormwater retention basin serving as a slow-release holding cell. Water is released gradually into the ground where it is naturally filtered before returning to the water cycle. During heavy rainfall, excess water is diverted to nearby rain gardens where native plants filter pollutants before it enters the groundwater system.

Grove City partnered with Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District and Rain Brothers, a Columbus-based sustainable construction company, to design and construct the blue roof with funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The Grove City Safety Complex is located at 3360 Park Street, Grove City. An infographic (left) detailing the project is located on signage in the rain garden. A video produced by Rain Brothers documents the installation process of the Grove City Safety Complex blue roof.

Thank you to all of our partners in making this project possible. Design creation and implementation to improve water quality in central Ohio would not be possible without you.

Published: January 11th, 2016

2015 Election Results

Thomas Shockley has been elected and Jessica D’Ambrosio has been re-elected to the Board of Supervisors of Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District at a public election held September 17, 2015 at the District office, 1404 Goodale Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio.

We had three highly qualified candidates and voters found it difficult to pick only two of them for the two seats open on the Board. Thank you to Cathy Cowan Becker, Jessica D’Ambrosio and Thomas Shockley for offering your time and energy to our election. We would like to extend additional gratitude to Cathy Cowan Becker for her first run for Franklin Soil and Water Board Member. Her background in Environment and Natural Resources made her a great candidate for our Board and we hope to work with her in other ways in the future.

Shockley has over 22 years of public service including his role as Franklin County Sanitary Engineer. As Sanitary Engineer, Tom was instrumental in extending sanitary sewer to pockets of unincorporated Franklin County with failing sewage treatment systems through the County’s Water Quality Partnership program. Tom was treasurer and fiscal agent for Franklin Soil and Water Board of Supervisors from 2012 – 2014.

D’Ambrosio is currently serving on Franklin Soil and Water Board of Supervisors as Vice Chair. Jessica is Assistant Professor for Cooperative Education at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Prior to that Jessica served as Program Manager for the Ohio Nonpoint source Education for Municipal Officials program at The Ohio State University. Jessica was instrumental in working with Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District and Friends of the Lower Olentangy River to implement conservation practices on Waterman Farms at The Ohio State University.

“We look forward to have Tom and Jessica on our Board of Supervisors. Their prior experience and knowledge of Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District will be an asset to leading us as we expand our work with communities and residents to address the increasing water quality and natural resource conservation needs,” said Jennifer Fish, Director of Franklin Soil and Water.

Congratulations Jessica and Thomas!

*Enabled under Ohio Revised Code 1515, soil and water conservation districts are subdivisions of the State of Ohio organized along county boundaries. Franklin Soil and Water officially began its work to improve and protect Franklin County soil and water resources on May 11, 1946. The five-member Board of Supervisors is the governing body of Franklin Soil and Water. Supervisors must own land or reside in Franklin County. They serve, unpaid, for three-year terms as elected public officials. Franklin Soil and Water receives non-mandated funding from the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, local municipalities and from the state as match funding.

Published: September 18th, 2015

Proposed State Budget Amendments

With the passage of Senate Bill 150 last session and Senate Bill 1 in March, we now have improved regulations to better address nutrient runoff and harmful algae blooms in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Efforts are also underway to make updates to ORC 1515 to better align resources to address agriculture pollution concerns between state agencies within the current budget bill.

These current budget bill changes assume that 100% of Soil and Water Conservation District work is in agriculture. Almost 50% of our work is working with landowners, residents and students who do not engage in agriculture and about 25% of our work directly addresses urban communities and stormwater runoff. The proposed changes ORC 939 and 940 eliminate a majority of the non-farm language that was under ORC 1515 and have the potential to eliminate the purpose and scope of work done by Soil and Water Conservation Districts over the long term.

We need your help to change the current language in the proposed senate amendments to the budget bill eliminating language in ORC 1515 (authorizing SWCD’s) and amending language to go under ORC 901, 939 and 940 in 2015 Budget Bill to ensure that SWCD’s retain our current support with the transfer of ODNR Division of Soil and Water (DSW) staff to ODA and OEPA. DSW staff is very important in supporting SWCDs both administratively and technically. Because SWCDs address both agriculture and urban natural resource needs, any changes to ORC need to clearly reflect this. Currently it appears that amendment language removes all language outside of agriculture and does not replace the corresponding language under ORC 939 & 940 correspond with the transfer of urban support staff from the former DSW to ODA and Ohio EPA.

Published: June 17th, 2015

Map of GreenSpot Rain Barrels

Our geomatics team just produced this awesome map of households participating in the GreenSpot rain barrel program from 2011 through this year. It’s exciting to see the widespread participation!

Map of Greenspot Rain Barrels

Published: December 4th, 2014

Commissioners Receive Great Blue Heron Award

At the December 2 General Session, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners was presented with a Great Blue Heron award in appreciation of the Commissioners’ ongoing support of the natural resources mapping program at Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District (FSWCD). The award was presented by FSWCD’s director Jennifer Fish.

The natural resources mapping program consists of geographic information system (GIS) maps that capture information about the data points collected. In addition to mapping all of Franklin County’s surface water, ditches and storm sewer systems, the geodatabase includes flow directionality of stormwater through the system, enabling more efficient responses to pollution reports. It also contains data on storm sewer outfalls where illicit discharges can be detected from failing household sewage treatment system (HSTS) and other sources, assisting Franklin County Public Health with their HSTS inspection program. Data on tree canopy cover and possible wetland areas have also been added, again making for more efficient and effective land use decisions by local governments. This will be increasingly valuable data to the county for future stormwater management and climate preparedness.

In her remarks, Fish lauded the Commissioners’ foresight and vision in supporting the mapping program. Their ongoing support continues to reduce funding costs for requisite stormwater and watershed planning. The amount and quality of data puts Franklin County at the forefront of geographic data analysis capabilities compared to counties nationwide.

“Due to early and consistent funding from the Board of Commissioners and the long-term retention of employees, we’ve been able to build a geodatabase with a huge amount of data at a reasonable cost,” said Fish. “That’s why we are also recognizing our GIS natural resources coordinator, Jeff Pierce. A 19-year employee of FSWCD, Pierce was recently awarded an honorable mention in the National Association of Conservation Districts’ 2014 Distinguished Service Award, given for significant life-time contributions to the conservation of our nation’s natural resources.” Pierce was the initial creator of the FSWCD natural resources geodatabase and mapping program and has continued to coordinate its growth and quality assurance.

Commission President Marilyn Brown said, “I’d like to thank Jeff, Jennifer and all of the employees at Franklin Soil and Water for their important work in protecting our local environment, and for providing comprehensive data to local governments, helping us make more efficient and effective land use decisions.”

Published: December 2nd, 2014

Water Quality Partner Program Launched

This summer we have launched a new program to help small businesses avoid stormwater pollution complaints and municipalities reach targeted outreach goals in their SWMP. The Water Quality Partner program is a stormwater-specific pledge program that is designed to share information on best practices with businesses too small to have compliance professionals on staff. Like the popular GreenSpot program launched by the City of Columbus, the Water Quality Partner program asks businesses to sign a voluntary pledge in which they have chosen among stormwater pollution prevention BMPs. The business then receives a door cling, public recognition and access to information and continuing education on stormwater issues.

After more than a year’s discussion with Ohio EPA and local government services staff, we realized that the majority of stormwater violations are through a lack of understanding, rather than criminal intent. Of course, the big cases in the news involve purposeful illegal behavior as in the recent case of the Youngstown contractor dumping fracking waste in the MS4. What’s much more common though is someone hired to power wash a grease filter from a restaurant hood who allows the wash water to enter the storm sewer. Leaking dumpsters, barrels stored outside without secondary containment, cleaning outside spills by hosing them down, dumping mop buckets in alleys—these are the small, everyday behaviors we’re working to eliminate.

So far, we’ve partnered with Upper Arlington and Canal Winchester, and the packets to Worthington businesses go out this week. From only two weeks of experience, the initial response from businesses has been very positive. In fact, a business in Canal Winchester sent a request along with their pledge—they asked for additional brochures on stormwater pollution prevention for both businesses and homeowners, so they could distribute them to their staff and customers. Of course, we were happy to comply!

If you would like to add the Water Quality Partner program to your 2015 working agreement, contact Jennifer Fish at or (614) 486-9613.

Find examples of the introductory letter to businesses and the WQP pledge here.

Published: August 21st, 2014

Mini-Grants Awarded

Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District is highlighting three projects that exemplify our mission of protecting soil and water resources in Franklin County. These projects are the recipients of the District’s Conservation Fund Mini-Grants, which promote on-the-ground conservation, especially small or on-going projects that may not meet the criteria of larger grant programs. The 2014 mini-grant winners are:
  • Franklinton Gardens to purchase root-stock for an edible perennial nursery
  • Green Columbus to purchase native trees for volunteer planting in conjunction with Earth Days activities
  • Worthington Libraries, Northwest Library Branch, to purchase native perennial plants for an educational garden
Franklinton Gardens will use the grant funds to purchase disease-resistant rootstock of apple, pear, cherry and plum trees, onto which will be grafted scions, or cuttings, from heritage fruit trees. The fruit trees are part of a four-year plan to develop an edible, perennial nursery of fruit trees, shrubs and brambles. After four years, cuttings will be made available from the nursery, so that others can begin their own urban orchards. Franklinton Gardens encourages ecologically sensitive, bio-diverse and edible landscapes, and works to inspire neighbors to adopt similar gardening practices in their own yards. The gardens consist of one and one-half acres spread across seven parcels in Franklinton.

Green Columbus will use the grant to buy trees for planting during Earth Day 2014 service activities, from April 19 through 26. The purchase of three-gallon-sized trees will enable volunteers to help restore neighborhood tree canopies by planting them in residential neighborhoods during the Earth Day service week. By restoring these canopies, stormwater runoff will be reduced, which will ultimately result in cleaner waterways in central Ohio. The grant will also be used to purchase tree seedlings given to attendees at the Earth Day 2014 celebration at Columbus Commons on April 26. Green Columbus organizes the largest Earth Day volunteer service project in the nation and sponsors events, including monthly Green Drinks, which brings speakers on sustainability issues to an audience in casual settings.

Worthington Libraries Northwest Branch will use the grant funds for the purchase of native perennials to be planted as part of an outdoor learning space where adults and children can experience a variety of imaginative sensory experiences in an accessible and natural setting. In addition to native plantings, the space will feature sculpture, safe ‘pondless’ water features, a rain garden, gravel pathways, a dry creekbed with native pebbles and boulders, a bird habitat area, natural log seats and benches and storage for ‘loose parts’ for creative play. “Just as we strive to do inside our buildings, we look forward to providing our community with an outdoor space to learn, explore and interact with nature in an atmosphere that is welcoming, engaging and fun,” said Lisa Fuller, director of community engagement at Worthington Libraries.

This is the second year the Conservation Mini-Grants have been awarded. Franklin Soil and Water provides up to three grants of up to $1,500, to assist in the protection and improvement of soil and water resources in Franklin County. The funds are generated from the Franklin Soil and Water annual meeting and silent auction, the annual tree and fish sale and donations received throughout the year for the Conservation Fund.

The mini-grants are available to schools, local governments and nonprofits, such as watershed organizations and civic associations. The project must align with Franklin Soil and Water’s mission to promote responsible land use decisions for the conservation, protection and improvement of soil and water resources.

Published: April 16th, 2014

Leaf Collection

We like to share great outreach tools used by local governments, so we all don’t have to re-invent the wheel. The City of Dublin’s “It’s Greener in Dublin!” door hanger for fall leaf collection is a case in point. Some points the door hanger makes that help to overcome barriers to proper leaf placement are:
  • “Leaves that are left in the street can be washed down storm drains where they can cause algae. If you plan on participating in the City’s leaf collection program this fall, you must rake leaves to the grassy area between the street and the sidewalk.”
  • “The right way to rake leaves. Piles of leaves in the street can clog drains and pose a serious safety risk to playing children.”
  • “Leaf piles do not kill grass, although they may cause it to temporarily discolor. The grass will grow back, rich and green, in the spring. To prevent grass from discoloring, rake your leaves immediately before your scheduled pickup date.”

Published: September 26th, 2013