Grand Lake St. Marys gets another $1 million for water quality

The Grand Lake St. Marys watershed received national attention by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to address the critical water quality issues facing residents in the watershed.

“NRCS Chief Dave White provided the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed with an additional $1 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to get conservation on the ground in this watershed,” State Conservationist Terry Cosby said. “There is a sizeable waiting list of producers with high quality EQIP applications in the watershed; those that result in the greatest conservation benefit will be chosen for funding.”

On the ground in the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed, conservation measures impacted by the weather seem to be doing well.

“Plant growth is ahead of schedule due to the unusually mild winter and spring,” said Steve McDevitt, an NRCS conservation planner working with producers in the watershed. “Cover crops are looking good.”

Now, more farmers will have a chance to take advantage of the financial and technical assistance offered through EQIP to plant cover crops, build manure storage facilities, put in filter strips, and complete other conservation measures that keep phosphorus out of waterways. Too much phosphorus in the lake has been identified as one of the factors causing harmful algal blooms.

Since 2008, NRCS has provided $7 million in EQIP financial assistance to producers in the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed to put conservation measures in place and keep nutrients out of the water. Several partners, including the county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, have dedicated staff and other resources to focus on improving agricultural practices in the watershed that may affect water quality. The collaborative approach to address the water quality issues by the Federal, State, and local government agencies has allowed for the leveraging of funds, which increases how far the dollars can go to improve the lake.

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