USDA Provides Grants To Promote Cleaner Water

January 22, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

lake-erie-evening-827073-mIt appears that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is placing a greater emphasis this year on cleaning up the nation’s watersheds. A recent USDA blog post touted that 70 percent of the 100-plus projects under in the first wave of funding though the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) aimed to provide clean and abundant water.

One project, the Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorous Reduction Initiative, is a multi-state project that brings together more than 40 partnering organizations from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana to reduce the runoff of phosphorous into the waterways in the western basin of Lake Erie. The blog post states that the lake has suffered from nutrient pollution for years, including last year’s water crisis that left 400,000 residents in the Toledo, Ohio area without water to drink, bathe or cook. This project plans to target funding to watersheds most in need, meaning the streams and rivers that have a large impact on water quality in the lake.

RCPP directs funding to state-level and multi-state projects as well as projects in critical conservation areas. USDA selected eight critical conservation areas, including the Great Lakes Region.

In addition, the USDA seeks to reduce agricultural pollution and improve the use of water by farms in the Connecticut River Valley and the Thames River Valley, which will receive $10.8 million in new federal grants, according to an article in the Hartford Courant. USDA officials said the grant programs are eventually designed to clean up waters flowing into Long Island Sound.

Federal officials said that agricultural, suburban and urban pollutants such as fertilizer and sewage are causing dangerously low oxygen levels in different sections of Long Island Sound. $10 million of the new grants will be used within the Connecticut River watershed, including sections of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the article added.

Another $400,000 in federal funding will be used for a University of Connecticut-lead program to help insure that farmers have adequate water supplies in response to periodic droughts in New England, and another $400,000 will go to improve water and soil quality in the Thames River Valley, the article stated.

Clean water is a no-brainer. USDA should be commended for these funding programs.

Let us know how you feel about these grants. We’d like to hear from you.

 

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