Funds could boost water quality

TRIMONT – Landowners in the Big Twin Lake-Elm Creek watershed near Trimont have an opportunity to get help implementing water conservation practices.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service selected the watershed as one of three statewide to receive special funding.

Reggie Liddell of the local NRCS office says the area has been given $333,000 to use for projects such as nutrient management, cover crops, filter strips and other water-quality and quantity concerns.

Funding is available through EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It provides financial and technical assistance to farmers.

“This initiative is a focused approach in areas facing significant natural resource challenges,” said state conservationist Don Baloun.

Through the program, NRCS is piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff. The tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems will affect water-quality improvement.

Liddell said property owners interested in the program should visit the office in Fairmont and apply for EQIP. Deadlines for funding are June 21 and July 21. Notification of approval usually comes within three weeks.

Several farmers already have applied, with requests ranging from $2,500 to $60,000. Liddell said the projects applied for are largely waterways, water control structures and cover crops.

Cover crops are considered water-quality practices because they hold down the topsoil and increase soil health, which keeps the soil from getting into waterways.

“Soil health is something we are really stressing in our area,” Liddell said.

NRCS will hold an outreach meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday at Triumph Hall in Trimont. Those interested in the watershed or who believe they might be able to utilize the funds are encouraged to attend.

“I think we have enough money to fund the concerns for the people who apply,” Liddell said.