Mike DeWine the candidate pledged to do something big for water quality, especially the beleaguered Lake Erie, long degraded by harmful algal blooms. On Friday, the governor began to fill in the details as part of unveiling his first two-year state budget plan. The water quality initiative is impressive, making available $900 million during the next decade in the form of what he calls the H2Ohio fund. The money would go to a range of purposes, from restoring wetlands to advancing research and dealing with failing septic systems.

As the governor stresses, “water is vital to everyone,” and rather than “lurch from water crisis to water crisis,” he wants to see “targeted, long-term solutions to ensure safe and clean water across the state.” The fund has the potential to help substantially in the cause.

At the same time, there is an urgency in play, in particular when it comes to Lake Erie, a natural treasure and source of many livelihoods, a reflection of one generation’s obligation to the next. The lake is distressed, or impaired, and the environmental lesson of the past is that real progress in cleaning up pollution such as the phosphorous-laden runoff flowing into the lake, and fueling the algae, requires firm regulation. Success involves accountability and enforcement.

The governor’s predecessor, John Kasich, encountered resistance when he, belatedly, started to pursue such regulation. The resistance came from state lawmakers and the farming industry. The primary contributor to the phosphorous pollution are farmlands, the remnants of fertilizers carried in streams and other waterways into the lake.

DeWine appears determined to take a run at developing a collaborative approach, or something less than the regulation many lawmakers, farmers and other stakeholders do not want to see. The H2Ohio fund would aid the effort. One concern expressed by farmers involves the cost of developing plans and taking steps to curb runoff from their fields. The fund could be a source of incentives and support.

The governor is right in saying that farmers should not “bear the entire burden of doing this.” More, many farmers want to be part of the solution.

In creating a fund with the time-frame of a decade, the governor rightly is seeking to solidify the state’s commitment. It helps that he has given up on borrowing the money via bonds, saving $475 million in interest payments. Yet it is worth highlighting that Ohio already has committed, joining Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario in pledging to reduce the phosphorous runoff 40 percent by 2025. That is the reduction advised by scientists as necessary to solve the algae problem. It is the recommendation of the joint U.S.-Canadian commission that serves as a steward of the Great Lakes.

Put another way, the governor has reason to limit his patience. No doubt, if the recommended reduction arrives in 2027 or 2028, the achievement would be no less significant. Still, moving more quickly not only mirrors the governor’s words about the importance of Lake Erie and other Ohio waters. It responds to Toledo voters who expressed no small amount of frustration in recently approving a bill of rights for Lake Erie, opening the way for residents, potentially, to file lawsuits on its behalf.

Recall that in 2014, Toledo residents faced the shutdown of the city water system because of toxic algae in the lake. Now five years later, the state has made few gains toward limiting phosphorous runoff. So in applauding the H2Ohio fund, it is important to bear in mind that the sound stewardship of Lake Erie requires much improvement the next five years.