The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced it has awarded a $315,000 grant to the Clinton County Conservation District so it can assist local farmers in the development of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to prevent future pollution in the Antes Creek Watershed.
“The department is pleased to provide this funding to the conservation district to assist with the development or improvement of agricultural plans, engineering evaluations, and the implementation of BMPs in this high risk watershed to prevent future surface and groundwater pollution,” Northcentral Regional Director Marcus Kohl said. “We also believe this funding is important to prevent the long-term degradation of this watershed as a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay.”
Land use within the watershed is mostly agriculture and the watershed is at high risk for pollution incidents due to a large number of sinkholes in the area, especially those near or within farm fields, and inadequate manure storage for local farmers during high risk periods.
One such incident occurred in March, where manure was applied on partially snow-covered ground over an unidentified sinkhole. Heavy snow melt transported applied manure into the regional groundwater table. About 12 local residents contacted DEP because their well water appeared and smelled like manure.
The department responded to these complaints, and assisted the residents by providing potable water until the groundwater cleared, which occurred several weeks later.
The Clinton County Commissioners later requested the department conduct an evaluation of all agricultural operations within the western half of the Nippenose Valley to locate open sinkholes, identify high risk practices, and identify best management practices that could be implemented by local farmers to prevent a future pollution incident.
A preliminary watershed assessment completed by DEP’s Waterways and Wetlands program staff has identified of number of additional BMPs that could prevent future pollution in the watershed, including manure storage facilities, roof gutter systems, fencing, milk house waste, agricultural erosion and sedimentation plans, and updated manure management plans.
DEP awarded the grant to the conservation district based on an immediate need for the work to be completed as soon as possible and the district’s history and experience with this type of work.For more information call 570-327-3636.