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Ohio Balanced Growth Program Offers Financial Incentives for Watershed Protection; Delaware to Receive Loan Discount

The Ohio Balanced Growth Program offers financial incentives for communities that link land-use planning to the health of watersheds and major water bodies.

The Balanced Growth Program is a voluntary, incentive-based strategy to protect and restore Lake Erie, the Ohio River and Ohio's watersheds to assure long-term economic competitiveness, ecological health and quality of life. The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) offers funding incentives for communities that create a balanced growth plan to protect and restore Ohio’s watersheds.

“The city of Delaware partnered with 26 other communities that share the Olentangy River watershed, and we are pleased that their cooperation has opened this opportunity for them,” said Gail Hesse, executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. “We hope this example will encourage more of Ohio’s communities to participate in the program.”

The city of Delaware is the first to receive a discounted loan from OWDA to make improvements at its drinking water plant through the Balanced Growth Program. This special discount was available to Delaware because it has an endorsed balanced growth plan for the lower Olentangy River.

“The benefits to the City of Delaware are twofold: interest cost-savings of $1.2 million over the life of the loan and a balanced growth strategy that assures long-term economic competitiveness, ecological health and quality of life,” Delaware City Manager Tom Homan said. “We applaud OWDA and Ohio EPA for making the program available, and MORPC for leading the regional effort in gaining support for the watershed strategy.”

The State’s Balanced Growth Program provides incentives to communities that participate through grants, loans and tax credits. Delaware was part of the Olentangy River Balanced Growth Plan, led by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), which was endorsed by the Ohio Water Resources Council in spring 2012. The OWDA discounted loan is one of the incentives a community can receive. A full list of the 26 incentives that are available to participating communities is available online.

Communities interested in receiving financial incentives should work with their surrounding watershed communities to create a balanced growth plan. A balanced growth plan identifies priority development areas and priority conservation areas within the watershed. The idea is to encourage development in locally selected priority development areas, agricultural industry in areas selected as priorities for agriculture, and protection of environmentally sensitive areas. MORPC’s plan for the lower Olentangy River is available online.

Communities that are interested in participating in the Balanced Growth Program can find more information at or by contacting the Ohio Lake Erie Commission or a member of the Ohio Water Resources Council.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. In the past 40 years, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. Ohio EPA….40 years and moving forward.