Bill would protect water quality

Tuesday August 4, 2015 5:45 AM

The Dispatch Editorial Staff

Thanks are due to Democratic state Reps. David Leland and Michael Stinziano for acting to defend public drinking-water supplies in central Ohio — not to mention basic property rights.

The two Columbus Democrats announced recently that they plan to introduce a bill to undo a provision inserted in the new state budget at the 11th hour by State Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander. The provision essentially authorized people who own property that abuts city-owned land along rivers and reservoirs to trespass, mow and alter the public’s land — a broad blanket permission that could justify just about any change.

Columbus maintains buffer strips of land along reservoirs so it can keep them in grasses and other vegetation to filter the herbicides and other pollutants from water that runs off of lawns and fields and into the reservoirs.

Some property owners resent that their view of the water is blocked or that they’re discouraged from building anything along the water, but the fact is they don’t own the property and aren’t entitled to alter it — especially at the expense of a clean public water supply.

The city of Columbus has a program through which property owners can apply to make certain changes to the land; those who want “view corridors” and such should follow that process.

At the very least, Jordan’s amendment shouldn’t have been slipped into the budget with so little discussion or public notice. A bill from Leland and Stinziano could allow valid concerns to be aired.