COLUMBUS — The Grand Lake St. Marys watershed has received national attention by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to address the critical water quality issues facing residents in the watershed.
NRCS Chief Dave White recently provided the Grand Lake St. Marys watershed with an additional $1 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for conservation in the watershed,.
State Conservationist Terry Cosby said “there is a sizable 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.”
A healthy lake is important to the economic activity surrounding its use, and for quality of life.
“A healthy Grand Lake St. Marys is critical to Ohio’s prosperity — and achieving this goal requires a comprehensive strategy,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, adding that a better lake will mean good things for the recreation, boating and tourism industry.
The watershed lies in Congressman John Boehner’s 8th Congressional District.
“I am committed to the continued expansion of conservation practices in and around Grand Lake St. Marys, and I’m pleased the Department of Agriculture has made this decision,” he said. “While I know it will take years to tackle all of the issues, improving water quality is important, and it will play a significant role in shaping the economic future of the region.”
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, according to Steve McDevitt, an NRCS conservation planner working with producers in the watershed.
More farmers will now 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.