By Edwina Teye, PhD
Published in This Week Community News
Central Ohio is fortunate to have abundant surface-water resources that bring valuable economic and quality-of-life benefits to our entire region.
Home to more than 100 miles of water along the Alum Creek, Big Darby Creek, Big Walnut Creek, Olentangy River and Scioto River, Central Ohio has immense water resources that add to the value and socioeconomic utility of the region.
Our waterways and trails continue to be a source of escape and a critical resource for supporting the mental and physical health of our residents. Events like RiverFest, which recently returned to an in-person format this year, give us an opportunity to pause, relax, reflect and appreciate our waters and, in doing so, engage in actions that improve and maintain our natural resources.
A large part of our work at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is to better understand future growth and development and the impacts they might have on a variety of issues, including water.
Between 2019 and 2022, MORPC, on behalf of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, completed a Central Ohio 208 Plan for 10 counties, including Franklin and surrounding counties. Not only do these plans provide a description and characterization of surface-water quality, but they also describe projected growth patterns, development trends and their implications on water quality and wastewater treatment needs. Through the plan-development process, MORPC engages local governments by providing the platform for them to help guide land-use decisions in a manner that is protective of the environment and water quality.
One of MORPC’s key strengths is in bringing people together and facilitating important conversations and planning efforts. We are excited to collaborate with the Urban Land Institute of Columbus, Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks and many public and private partners throughout Central Ohio on the RAPID 5 project.
Under the leadership of Dr. Amy Acton, the goal of RAPID 5 is to connect our region’s major waterways and trails into one interconnected, greenspace system. When implemented, more residents will have access to transportation and myriad recreational opportunities along our waterways. RAPID 5 is in the early stages of development. Learn more about this initiative at rapid5.org.
Finally, in April, through the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund, an Ohio Public Works Commission program administered by MORPC awarded more than $3 million to fund four projects focused on large-scale acquisitions and riparian restoration projects in Franklin County. To learn more about the District 3 Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program, go to morpc.org/cleanohio.
Our abundant water resources connect our region in many unique ways. From recreational opportunities to meeting our everyday needs and supporting our economy, water sustains and connects Central Ohio. MORPC is committed to planning sustainably for our water resources in a manner that supports growth and development in the region.
Dr. Edwina Teye is a senior planner at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. MORPC’s purpose is to bring communities of all sizes and interests together to collaborate on best practices and plan for the future of the region.