FREMONT - A watershed specialist with Sandusky River Watershed Coalition reminds farmers and landowners there are several types of grant funds available to implement conservation measures.
An $800,000 "Making Sense of Out of Soil Savings" grant, which began in 2010, also is ongoing, the specialist, Cindy Brookes, said.
"We'll be completing our second year this fall," Brookes said. "The grant funds conservation practices like conservation crop and tillage practices, winter cover crops, tile and streambank stabilization and waterway repairs."
The program continues to take applications from landowners in the watersheds of Sandusky River Tiffin, Rock Creek, Morrison Creek, Willow Creek, Bells Run, Sugar Creek, Spicer Creek and the Sandusky River between CR 52 and Sandusky County's Beier Road.
"The one thing they have to remember is this is not just for agriculture," Brookes said. "Streambank stabilization or anything that might apply to residential property are welcome to apply."
The grant is collecting statistics that show the benefits to taxpayers of providing funding for agriculture conservation practices. For example, she said the city of Fremont pays $193 per ton to remove sediment from its drinking water, or an estimated $900,000. If $33,000 was spent on best management practices, there would be a savings of more than $800,000 over 20 years.
"That's what we want to get across," Brookes said. "What we spend on agriculture conservation can and will pay off.
"Farmers get hit twice," she said. "They pay in yield losses and pay in taxes as well. As taxpayers, how many times are we paying for this? Would you rather pay for it once, or pay for it twice?"
Honey Creek Targeted Watershed Grant continues to aid farmers in implementing nutrient management measures.
The grant, which has been administered by Heidelberg University and Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District since 2008, provides funds for winter cover crop plantings, grid soil sampling and variable rate fertilizer application, as well nitrogen stabilizer.
Brookes said a one-year extension has been requested for the grant, and conservation practices it funds may be expanded.
For more information, call Bret Margraf at SWCD, (419) 447-7073.
Another three-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant is focused on conservation practices in Loss Creek watershed in Crawford County.
In a different pollution control arena, SRWC is administering grants to replace septic systems for county commissioners in Seneca, Crawford, Erie, Sandusky and Wyandot counties. The $590,000 Water Pollution Control Loan Fund Low Income Home Sewage Treatment System Repair/Replacement grants are designed to reduce the problem of malfunctioning or non-existent septic systems.
Seneca County's portion of the grant was $160,000, which funded 12 new systems. A total of 40 systems were purchased in the watershed.
Funds have been used for this year. However, Brookes said low-income people should apply because the waiting list will determine the amount of funding available in 2013.
"We're hoping it will be an ongoing loan program," she said. "Septic systems will always be a focus. We have so many systems out there that have exceeded their life span."
In addition to grants already being implemented, the coalition recently applied for a new $380,000 Great Lakes Restoration Fund grant for Spring Run watershed in Crawford "and a little sliver in Seneca County," Brookes said.
The grant is to focus on nutrient management "with a nitrogen twist," she said.
"We're hoping to have word by the end of summer," she said.
In addition to grants, Brookes said summer intern Megan Brown is chairwoman of this year's Sandusky River Clean Sweep, to take place Aug. 18 based at Hedges-Boyer Park shelter 5. Brown is registering volunteers to help with "Fishing for Litter" 9 a.m.-noon, followed by lunch, prizes, T-shirts and goody bags.
"August marks the watershed coalition's 15th anniversary," Brookes said.
She's making plans to celebrate the anniversary at an annual meeting in December.
Brookes invited anyone interested in getting involved in the coalition to attend one of the committee meetings. The land use and resource management committee next meets 1-3 p.m. July 10 in Aramark Room at Heidelberg.
The education and development committee meets 7-9 p.m. July 10 at the Dwight and Lisa Clary residence. The water supply and wastewater management committee meets 10 a.m.-noon July 13 at Seneca County Ag Center.
The next meeting of the steering committee is 9 a.m. Aug. 1 at Sunrise Cooperative's Crestline facility. The steering committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, but is not meeting in July.