Mothers Of Ethiopia Part I: Zemzem's Journey | Hanna Ingber Win

Editor's note: Hanna Ingber Win, the Huffington Post's World Editor, was recently invited by the UN Population Fund to visit its maternal health programs in Ethiopia, which has one of the world's worst health care systems. In the U.S., a woman has a 1 in 4,800 chance of dying from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth in her lifetime. In Ethiopia, a woman has a 1 in 27 chance of dying.

This is the first in a five-part series on what she learned on her trip.

JIMMA, Ethiopia -- When Zemzem Moustafa went into labor with her fifth child - at age 30 - she could sense a problem. Living in a thatched-roof hut in Ilebabo, a rural village in western Ethiopia, she and her husband walked to the local health post. A health extension worker there could tell that the baby was in the wrong position, but the worker could not help Zemzem and referred her to the hospital. And so Zemzem's journey began, one that ends in tragedy for thousands of women in Ethiopia each year.

She and her husband, a poor farmer, collected 50 birr (US$4) from their neighbors for the trip to a hospital in Jimma, the closest big town. Leaving at around 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, they walked through the fields for an hour until they arrived at a road. Standing at the side of the road, they hailed a rickety old minibus packed with other villagers.

Close



Zemzem Moustafa, 30, looks down at her 3-week-old son at the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009. Zemzem traveled 20 hours, while in labor, from her rural village to get to the hospital in the closest big town. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her uterus had partially ruptured. A resident and health officer were able to save her life and that of her make baby.



The other women who share Zemzem's room at the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, arrived at the hospital too late. Their uteri had ruptured fully, and their babies had died. The patient on the right lost almost two-thirds of her blood during an operation, which removed her uterus. If she had not gotten to the hospital, she would have died.



Dr. Chuchu Girma, a surgeon and the clinical director of the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, answers his phone in his office on September 2, 2009. Dr. Chuchu coordinates a program implemented by the Ethiopian government and UN Population Fund to train health officers in basic emergency and obstetric surgery.



A woman in labor is led into the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009.



A woman in the maternity ward with her newborn at Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009.



The delivery room at Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009.



Husbands and family members wait outside the maternity ward at the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009.



A child stands on a scale in the pediatric wing of the Jimma Referral Hospital in Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009. The child's cheeks are swollen due to malnourishment.



Men walk along a main street running through Jimma, a major town in Western Ethiopia on September 2, 2009.



Traditional thatch-roof homes dot the countryside along the road between Addis Ababa and Jimma, Ethiopia.



A view of the countryside along the road between Addis Ababa and Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 1, 2009. Despite Ethiopia's reputation as being a land of famine and drought, much of the country has lush, green farmland.



A man walks with a donkey on the road between Addis Ababa and Jimma, Ethiopia, on September 2, 2009.

August is the rainy season in western Ethiopia and the minibus got stuck in the mud. Zemzem, whose contractions became more and more intense, spent the night on the side of the road with her husband and the other passengers. The next morning the men freed the minibus from the mud and the trip continued.

Zemzem and her husband reached Jimma at noon on Saturday, a full 20 hours after the trip began. They drove down the dirt road that runs through the center of the town, past the young boys herding sheep, the donkeys with bushels of hay strapped to their backs and the women sitting on the side of the road selling vegetables.

By the time Zemzem arrived at Jimma Referral Hospital, her uterus had partially ruptured as a result of the prolonged labor. A gyno/obs resident and a health officer operated on her immediately, and they successfully saved the lives of Zemzem and her baby.

"If she [had been delayed] two or three hours more, the baby - and even the mother - would have lost her life," Dr. Chuchu her Girma, a surgeon and the clinical director of the hospital, tells me as we chat with Zemzem in the maternity ward.

Maternal health specialists say that there are three ways in which necessary treatment is delayed: when the mother or family first decides to seek appropriate medical care for an obstetric emergency, as the family tries to take the woman to a hospital and faces transportation impediments and once the woman reaches the health institution and faces setbacks in being admitted and getting medical attention.

I am visiting the Jimma Referral Hospital as part of a trip sponsored by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides support for the government's program to train non-physician clinicians to perform procedures, such as obstetric surgery, traditionally performed by doctors. The health officer who operated on Zemzem is being trained to become one of these non-physician clinicians.

Zemzem is lying on an old metal bed with the paint chipping off, under a heavy blanket that looks itchy and dirty. A used surgeon's glove is tied to the bedpost. The sheet has fallen down, exposing a thin plastic mattress.

When I enter the maternity ward at Jimma Hospital, the stench practically smacks me in the face. The smell, a combination of urine and feces and other bodily fluids, overpowers all my other senses.

Each room along the maternity ward has a sign posted above the door in English and Oromiffa, the local language: "Labor Room", "High Risk Room", "Delivery Room". Zemzem stays in "Septic Room." The Septic Room houses women who have had pregnancy complications like ruptured uteri and fistulas that involve extra discharge.

When Dr. Chuchu and I enter the Septic Room, Zemzem is lying flat on the bed with her baby under the blanket. I ask about the baby, and Zemzem's face lights up. She pulls the blanket back to reveal her newborn. I ask if the baby is a girl or a boy, and Zemzem, saying he is a boy, smiles and laughs.

"They are very happy when they get men," Dr. Chuchu says to me.

Zemzem has remained at the hospital for three weeks because she has an infection. Dr. Chuchu lifts up Zemzem's gown to reveal a large white bandage from the surgery.

Her husband has returned to her village to take care of the other four children, a medical intern says, translating Zemzem's answers in Oromiffa, the local language, into the national language, Amharic, for Dr. Chuchu, who translates into English for me.

Some girls in Ethiopia get married as young as 10 or 11, Dr. Chuchu says, and they then get pregnant before their bodies fully develop. This increases the likelihood that they will have obstructed labor. A ruptured uterus is a very simple, manageable problem, he says. But the girls or young women, living in rural villages, usually give birth at home and lack access to a health professional during delivery -- like 94 percent of Ethiopian mothers.

Without help during delivery and without surgery and a blood transfusion if the mother's uterus ruptures, the girl or woman often dies. In the United States, eight women die during childbirth for every 100,000 live births, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). In Ethiopia, 673 women die, making the maternal mortality rate 84 times higher. UNFPA considers every single maternal death preventable.

Zemzem's other children range in age from 2 to 12, the intern translates as he gently pulls down her gown to cover up her back.

I bring out my camera, and Zemzem smiles glowingly at her new son.

No one else in the "Septic Room" can empathize with Zemzem's joy. The other three patients all had fully ruptured uteri and lost their babies.

Dr. Chuchu and I stand next the bed of another patient. The blanket engulfs her tiny body, so small it looks like it belongs to a child. An intravenous drip stands next to the bed, pumping antibiotics into the young woman. Dr. Chuchu looks at her chart -- she has lost almost two-thirds of her blood during her operation and now waits for a blood transfusion. He pulls down one of her lower eyelids. The entire eye is white, not a trace of red veins.

"This is a case [where the mother] usually dies," Dr. Chuchu says. If she had been at a rural health post or health center, she would not have had access to a surgeon or to equipment necessary for a blood transfusion.

The woman looks so vulnerable that I whisper in Dr. Chuchu's ear, asking if he thinks she will make it. Yes, she will survive, he says. She will get blood here.

Dr. Chuchu asks the patient where she comes from, but she is too weak to answer. He looks at her chart. She comes from Gatera, 112 kilometers from Jimma. She is 22 years old and has been pregnant four times. This is the third child she has lost. When she arrived at the hospital, her uterus had already ruptured. She therefore lost the baby and had to have her uterus removed.

If she is Muslim, her husband will take another wife to have more children, Dr. Chuchu tells me. He checks her chart. "Oh, she's Muslim," he says. "He will definitely have another wife."

Part II: Escaping Child Marriage in Ethiopia

Part III: Battling Pregnancy Complications

Part IV: Inside A Rural Health Post

Part V: Ethiopian Gov't Looks For Solutions To Dire Shortage Of Health Professionals

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hanna-ingber-win/mothers-of-ethiopia-part_b_300333.html

http://www.fao.org/docrep/T0551E/t0551e05.htm



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How Septic Systems Work



Households that are not served by public sewers typically depend on septic tanks to treat and throw away wastewater. Septic tanks represent a significant financial investment. If cared for appropriately, a well designed, installed, and preserved system will offer years of trustworthy, low-priced service.

A failing system can end up being a source of pollution and public health issue, causing building damage, ground and surface area water pollution (such as well water-- both yours and your next-door neighbors), and disease outbreaks. As soon as your septic tank fails to operate successfully, you might have to replace it, costing you thousands of dollars. Plus, if you sell your home, your septic system must remain in great working order. Therefore, it makes good sense to comprehend and take care of your septic tank.

There are various types of septic tanks that fit a large range of soil and website conditions. The following will certainly help you understand the main parts of a requirement (gravity fed) septic system and ways to keep it running safely at the most affordable possible expense.

A basic septic tank system has three main parts:

The Septic Tank-- A septic tank's function is to separate solids from the wastewater, shop and partly decompose as much solid product as possible, while permitting the liquid (or effluent) to go to the drainfield.

The Drainfield-- After solids settle in the septic tank, the liquid wastewater (or effluent) is released to the drainfield, also called an absorption or leach field.

The Soil-- The soil below the drainfield offers the last treatment and disposal of the septic tank effluent. After the wastewater has actually passed into the soil, organisms in the soil deal with the effluent before it percolates downward and outward, eventually entering ground or surface water. The kind of soil likewise affects septic the efficiency of the drainfield; for example, clay soils might be too tight to allow much wastewater to go through and gravelly soil may be too coarse to offer much treatment.

Maintenance Suggestion

House owners and locals have an excellent impact on septic system efficiency. Using more water than the system was created to handle can trigger a failure. Disposal of chemical or excess natural matter, such as that from a garbage disposal, can ruin a septic system. The following upkeep ideas can help your system offer long-term, reliable treatment of family waste.

Examine and Pump Frequently

The most essential step to preserving your septic tank is to get rid of sludge and scum accumulation prior to it cleans into the drainfield. How often your tank needs pumping depends on the size of the tank, the variety of people in your family, the volume of water made use of, and Jacksonville quantity of solids (from humans, waste disposal unit, and other wastes) getting in the system. Normally, tanks must be pumped every 3 to 5 years.

Use Water Effectively

Excessive water is a significant cause of system failure. The soil under the septic system have to absorb all the water made use of in the home. Too much water from laundry, dishwasher, toilets, baths, and showers might not enable enough time for sludge and scum to separate. The less water utilized, the less water entering the septic tank, leading to less risk of system failure.

Decrease Solid Waste Disposal

What decreases the drain can have a major influence on your septic system. Numerous materials do not decompose and subsequently, develop in your septic tank. If you can deal with it in some other method, doing this, instead of putting it into your system.

Keep Chemicals Out of Your System

Keep home chemicals from your septic tank, such as caustic drain openers, paints, pesticides, photographic chemicals, brake fluid, gas, and motor oil. Improper disposal of toxic chemicals down the drain is harmful to the environment, along with the bacteria needed to break down wastes in the septic system.

Septic tank Additives

Including a stimulator or a booster to a septic tank to aid it function or "to bring back bacterial balance" is not required. The naturally taking place bacteria required for the septic system to work are already present in human feces.

What Can Fail?

Like an automobile, septic tanks are created to supply long-lasting, reliable treatment of home waste when operated and kept effectively. Nevertheless, the majority of systems that fail prematurely are due to improper upkeep.

If you discover any of the following signs or if you believe your septic tank may be having issues, get in touch with a competent septic professional.

- Odors, emerging sewage, damp areas, or rich greenery development in the drainfield area

- Plumbing or septic tank backups (commonly a black liquid with a disagreeable smell).

- Slow draining components.

- Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.

- If you have a well and tests show the presence of coliform (germs) or nitrates, your drainfield might be failing.

- Rich green grass over the drainfield, even during dry weather.



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How Much Will Your Home Renovation Cost? (Hint: More Than You Think) - DNAinfo

 The before and after photos of one of Pepper Binkley's bathrooms, which she renovated using a contractor she found through Sweeten.com, whose blog documented the renovation of both of Binkley's bathrooms. The before and after photos of one of Pepper Binkley's bathrooms, which she renovated using a contractor she found through Sweeten.com, whose blog documented the renovation of both of Binkley's bathrooms. View Full Caption

Sweeten.com

MANHATTAN After living in her Hudson Heights pre-war apartment for eight years, Pepper Binkley finally decided to re-do her two bathrooms, getting bids from five contractors.

She was shocked at how high the quotes were and how wildly far apart they were in price.

The low end of the bids, which were just for labor and did not include fixtures or tiles, came in about $20,000, while the high end was above $40,000.

"I thought the whole cost was going to be about $10,000 to $15,000 for labor for both bathrooms," said Binkley, an actress, who ended up scaling down her project, deciding to put more money into nice fixtures rather than moving any plumbing around.

It's not uncommon for homeowners to receive multiple bids from a range of contractors, all of which vary greatly in price as well as scope, experts said. Prices in the industry seem to be running especially high these days as renovation permits have spiked and contractors are in high demand.

Binkley went with a contractor on the lower end of the bidding spectrum, who was just starting his own business and was "hungry." She found him through Sweeten, a New York City-focused online matchmaking service for homeowners and licensed contractors. Even though there was a "fair amount he didn't know," Binkley said "he was responsible and responsive and was around the project, so when issues came up, he was around," said Binkley, who was happy with the results.

Here's what you need to know if you're planning a project:

1. Kitchen renovations start at $30,000; bathrooms start at $20,000.

For a kitchen renovation that's "done right," including all appliances, expect it to cost at least $30,000, according to Bolster, a startup that aims to transform homeowners' renovation experience by guaranteeing their projects never go over budget.

Bathrooms will likely start at $20,000, with new fixtures.

The starting cost of a basic kitchen and bathroom renovation that includes some electrical and plumbing replacement with basic carpentry and finishes and does not include relocating any water lines or outlets is $60,000.

In Manhattan, the average project ran about $117,595, with kitchens the most popular type of project by volume, according to a new analysis of Bolster's projects from the third quarter.

Brooklyn projects averaged roughly $80,000, with gut renovations most popular.

Guts were also most popular in Queens and the Bronx, where average prices were about $246,000 and $225,000 respectively.

The quality of materials and workmanship can affect the price tremendously and mean the difference between a job that costs $100 a square foot versus $300 per square foot, said Bolster's founder and CEO Fraser Patterson.

2. Contractors are busy and can charge accordingly.

Renovation spending is expected to reach a high in the third quarter of this year, surpassing its previous record of 2007, according to the Residential Remodeling Index, a national consumer retail index monitored by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing.

 Fraser Patterson, founder and CEO of Bolster. Fraser Patterson, founder and CEO of Bolster. View Full Caption

Bolster

"This means increasingly more demand for contractors which can, in itself, drive up prices," Patterson said.

The city's renovation landscape is busiest in Brooklyn with roughly 3,790 permits for alterations filed between June 2014 through July 2015, up more than 14 percent from the year before, according to a DNAinfo analysis of Department of Buildings data.

Manhattan saw 3,530 permits filed, up nearly 10 percent from the year before, and Queens saw 3,110 permits filed, up 7 percent.

Though the Bronx trailed in overall permits, with 1,140, the borough's jump was nearly 14 percent from the year before.

(Staten Island's 540 permits represented a slight dip from the year before.)

3. More work brings out more "amateurs."

The high demand draws inexperienced contractors who sometimes offer low prices but buyer beware, sometimes you get what you pay for, Patterson said.

Without the necessary overhead, like licenses, insurances or training, fly-by-night contractors could provide dangerously cheap bids and undercut the professionals, he warned.

Making matters worse, these contractors will sometimes take the money and run, leaving the homeowner high and dry. With no known reputation to uphold, new to the scene contractors can be less reliable than ones who've been in the business for a while.

Experts say you should always check with the city's Department of Consumer Affairs to ensure your contractor is licensed in good standing, and make sure you check their insurance policy to make sure it's the right one for your project.

4. If you don't present your contractors with the same scope of work, it's hard to compare bids.

Contractors are often not bidding on the same set of tasks, which makes it hard for a homeowner to understand what they might be getting or paying for.

"[Contractors] each interpret and quote differently omitting or obfuscating various things, either by virtue of the way they 'build' an estimate or deliberately to confuse the homeowner," Patterson explained.

He added that consumers typically don't have the technical expertise to tell the difference between the information and pricing the contractors are giving them.

5. The best way to get an estimate is to have your contractor do a thorough walkthrough.

When figuring out how much their renovation project will cost, a lot of homeowners will ask their friends, real estate brokers or architects.

"Those are the wrong people," said Aaron Borenstein, a contractor with more than 14 years experience who works for Bolster.

"The right way to figure out how much it is going to cost is to allow your contractor to come in and do their due diligence and iron out unforeseen issues. The more discovery pre-construction, the more control over the costs while you're building," Borenstein said.

There are a lot of factors to consider in New York City, he added, like whether you live in an elevator building or walkup, whether there's parking nearby, whether there's space to store materials in the apartment while work is happening, or whether construction work will be restricted to certain hours.

There are also questions about who will be doing the work.

"Are you hiring a man and his son to do everything? Maybe it will take six months instead of two," said Borenstein.

"There are a lot of construction firms out there that lowball projects and then hit the homeowners with additional work orders," he said, adding, "The prices when they're higher, they're just realistic."

http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGJLMs-Wwpysrulay8eT-NhHcmEaA&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&cid=52778929865417&ei=wZXwVaLiI4q3aPPBi8AG&url=http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150818/hudson-heights/how-much-will-your-home-renovation-cost-hint-more-than-you-think
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Get ready for more changes in farm practices - Farm and Dairy

As I sit in my office today trying to decide what to write about in this weeks column, I look out my window at the beautiful black-eyed susans and am in awe.

Working in the natural resources field, we are more connected to nature than many, yet we still take it for granted.

Many days I think we all get so caught up with work and the stress of daily life that we lose track of what is important and how much we have to be thankful for.

I am inspired by quotations and use them for reflection within my own life.

One quote comes to me today. Enjoy the little things in life for one day youll look back and realize they were the big things.

Take some time

Take just a few minutes to appreciate the small things in your life and it will be that much easier to accomplish the larger tasks.

Fall is just around the corner. Please take time and a break from life to get out and enjoy the beauty that comes with it through county fairs, drive-it-yourself tours, field days, sporting events, community activities, etc.

Just as with the seasons, the approaching fall reminds me that change is the one constant in our lives.

Changes at ODNR. By the beginning of 2016, there will be many changes. Some of the changes will directly impact our local Soil and Water Conservation District, but may not affect the general public at all.

Several years ago, the ODNR Division of Soil and Water and the Division of Water were merged to create the Division of Soil and Water Resources. With the passage of the most recent state budget bill, this will now be dissolved.

The Division of Soil and Water Resources will no longer exist. ODNR will now create a new Division of Water.

The agricultural components that used to be part of the ODNR Division of Soil and Water will now be a new division of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Urban components will now become part of Ohio EPA.

So, you may be asking, how does this affect me. More than likely it wont.

The local soil and water conservation districts will continue to offer the same services and in the future may potentially have even more resources to assist you with. The administrative process will change, but the service will not.

Nutrient management

There are also many changes on the horizon as it pertains to nutrient management, including both fertilizer and livestock waste. The new law is known as amended S.B. 1.

The law generally prohibits farmers in the western Lake Erie basin from applying manure and chemical fertilizer when the ground is frozen, snow-covered, or saturated with precipitation.

Farmers in the western basin are also prohibited from applying nutrients when rain is likely. Farmers do have some exceptions that they may use such as injecting the fertilizer or manure, incorporating the nutrients within 24 hours of surface application, or applying nutrients to a growing cover crop.

All producers should be aware of these rules. The law currently only affects a specific geographic area but that could change at any time and be inclusive of all of Ohio.

Flood insurance

In April, there was congressional action that mandated reforms required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). This new law slows some flood insurance rate increases and offers relief to some policyholders who experienced steep flood insurance premium increases in 2013 and early 2014.

The changes that have taken place also include an increase in the Reserve Fund Assessment, the implementation of an annual surcharge on all new and renewed policies, an additional deductible option, an increase in the Federal Policy Fee and rate increases for most policies.

If you have been affected by these changes and have further questions, refer to the WYO14053 bulletin, or search the FEMA Fact Sheet addressing how the April 2015 program changes will affect flood insurance premiums.

New sewage rules

This year also brought the implementation of new sewage rules. The updated regulations can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website. Dont let rumors lead you into expensive repairs and unnecessary sewage system replacements.

Ohios new sewage rules will not require everyone in the state to automatically replace their septic system. The new sewage rules are in place for several reasons. The rules havent been updated since 1977.

Among some of the rumors are that leach fields are no longer an option. Septic tank/leach field systems are still allowed under the new rules and are the preferred system when soil conditions are good.

You can keep your current system as-is as long as theres not sewage on the top of the ground, missing parts/pieces or backup in your home. If a system is failing, it could indicate a number of problems, but this doesnt necessarily meant you will have to replace the entire system to meet the standards in the new rules or the existing state laws it could just mean replacing missing or broken parts adding treatment.

If you would like more information, visit the ODH website or contact your local health department. These are just a few of the many changes occurring that our office is linked to in some capacity.

It is difficult to stay abreast of these changes. My advice to any landowner is do your homework.

No matter what you are planning to do purchase land, build a home, expand your livestock operations, etc. contact your local soil and water office or other local agency, to help guide you in the right direction.

Please make sure you are informed of local floodplain development rules, zoning, soils, and the list goes on and on.

We live in a time where most resist change. Progress is impossible without change. Whether it be regulations, careers, family situations or our health, we cant always control what happens but we can control how we respond.

I would like to leave you today with a quote from Socrates: The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

About the Author Cathy Berg, Program Administrator for the Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District for 15 past years.Bachelor of Science Degree from The Ohio State University. Major in Agronomy with soils specialization and a minor in Natural Resources Management. More Stories by Cathy BergGet our Top Stories in Your Inbox

http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGAhuxEMTTd8_1G6XbivKox6jbWtQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=g5fuVfDFIomE1QagyLXACQ&url=http://www.farmanddairy.com/columns/get-ready-for-more-changes-in-farm-practices/280010.html
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Get ready for more changes in farm practices - Farm and Dairy

As I sit in my office today trying to decide what to write about in this weeks column, I look out my window at the beautiful black-eyed susans and am in awe.

Working in the natural resources field, we are more connected to nature than many, yet we still take it for granted.

Many days I think we all get so caught up with work and the stress of daily life that we lose track of what is important and how much we have to be thankful for.

I am inspired by quotations and use them for reflection within my own life.

One quote comes to me today. Enjoy the little things in life for one day youll look back and realize they were the big things.

Take some time

Take just a few minutes to appreciate the small things in your life and it will be that much easier to accomplish the larger tasks.

Fall is just around the corner. Please take time and a break from life to get out and enjoy the beauty that comes with it through county fairs, drive-it-yourself tours, field days, sporting events, community activities, etc.

Just as with the seasons, the approaching fall reminds me that change is the one constant in our lives.

Changes at ODNR. By the beginning of 2016, there will be many changes. Some of the changes will directly impact our local Soil and Water Conservation District, but may not affect the general public at all.

Several years ago, the ODNR Division of Soil and Water and the Division of Water were merged to create the Division of Soil and Water Resources. With the passage of the most recent state budget bill, this will now be dissolved.

The Division of Soil and Water Resources will no longer exist. ODNR will now create a new Division of Water.

The agricultural components that used to be part of the ODNR Division of Soil and Water will now be a new division of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Urban components will now become part of Ohio EPA.

So, you may be asking, how does this affect me. More than likely it wont.

The local soil and water conservation districts will continue to offer the same services and in the future may potentially have even more resources to assist you with. The administrative process will change, but the service will not.

Nutrient management

There are also many changes on the horizon as it pertains to nutrient management, including both fertilizer and livestock waste. The new law is known as amended S.B. 1.

The law generally prohibits farmers in the western Lake Erie basin from applying manure and chemical fertilizer when the ground is frozen, snow-covered, or saturated with precipitation.

Farmers in the western basin are also prohibited from applying nutrients when rain is likely. Farmers do have some exceptions that they may use such as injecting the fertilizer or manure, incorporating the nutrients within 24 hours of surface application, or applying nutrients to a growing cover crop.

All producers should be aware of these rules. The law currently only affects a specific geographic area but that could change at any time and be inclusive of all of Ohio.

Flood insurance

In April, there was congressional action that mandated reforms required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). This new law slows some flood insurance rate increases and offers relief to some policyholders who experienced steep flood insurance premium increases in 2013 and early 2014.

The changes that have taken place also include an increase in the Reserve Fund Assessment, the implementation of an annual surcharge on all new and renewed policies, an additional deductible option, an increase in the Federal Policy Fee and rate increases for most policies.

If you have been affected by these changes and have further questions, refer to the WYO14053 bulletin, or search the FEMA Fact Sheet addressing how the April 2015 program changes will affect flood insurance premiums.

New sewage rules

This year also brought the implementation of new sewage rules. The updated regulations can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website. Dont let rumors lead you into expensive repairs and unnecessary sewage system replacements.

Ohios new sewage rules will not require everyone in the state to automatically replace their septic system. The new sewage rules are in place for several reasons. The rules havent been updated since 1977.

Among some of the rumors are that leach fields are no longer an option. Septic tank/leach field systems are still allowed under the new rules and are the preferred system when soil conditions are good.

You can keep your current system as-is as long as theres not sewage on the top of the ground, missing parts/pieces or backup in your home. If a system is failing, it could indicate a number of problems, but this doesnt necessarily meant you will have to replace the entire system to meet the standards in the new rules or the existing state laws it could just mean replacing missing or broken parts adding treatment.

If you would like more information, visit the ODH website or contact your local health department. These are just a few of the many changes occurring that our office is linked to in some capacity.

It is difficult to stay abreast of these changes. My advice to any landowner is do your homework.

No matter what you are planning to do purchase land, build a home, expand your livestock operations, etc. contact your local soil and water office or other local agency, to help guide you in the right direction.

Please make sure you are informed of local floodplain development rules, zoning, soils, and the list goes on and on.

We live in a time where most resist change. Progress is impossible without change. Whether it be regulations, careers, family situations or our health, we cant always control what happens but we can control how we respond.

I would like to leave you today with a quote from Socrates: The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

About the Author Cathy Berg, Program Administrator for the Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District for 15 past years.Bachelor of Science Degree from The Ohio State University. Major in Agronomy with soils specialization and a minor in Natural Resources Management. More Stories by Cathy BergGet our Top Stories in Your Inbox

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