Area soil and water conservation districts were among the recipients of $12.2 million in grants announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday. The competitive grants will help 209 farms in 27 counties protect New York’s lakes, streams and rivers from potential agricultural runoff, according to media release. This assistance is awarded through the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund.
Representatives of two of the agencies discussed the grants. Delaware County Soil and Water Executive Director Rick Weidenbach said the $1.28 million received in state funds includes two grants.
“We are happy to see this,” he said. “It’s a nice partnership between the state and farmers.” Landowners pay a share of the expenses.
One grant will be used to fund projects that reduce the amount of manure, nutrients and sediment that will reach the Susquehanna River on two farms — one in the town of Masonville and the other in the town of Kortright with land in neighboring farms. The landowners will pay a share of the costs.
The other grant totaling $330,000 is for a partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County involving precision feed management planning on ten farms in a three county region. By better meeting the nutritional needs of cows it also reduces the amount of nutrients and sediments in the waterway, he said.
Both will help address the caps the state faces to meet an Environmental Protection Agency mandate restricting nutrients and sediment reaching the Chesapeake Bay, he said.
Otsego County Soil and Water District Manager Scott Fickbohm said “we are pretty happy” about the four grants totaling $433,957. They cover nonpoint source pollution projects. While not involving direct discharges into waterways, projects that help keep such things as nutrients and sediment out of streams will help keep “clean water clean.”
One project will help build a manure storage pit on a farm in South New Berlin near the Unadilla River. Other farms are in Otsego, Worcester and Schenevus near water bodies that all flow into the Susquehanna River. The landowners will pay 25 percent in each project.
Also included in the announcement, Chenango County Soil and Water received $342,745 for projects.
These competitive grants provide funding to the agencies to address water quality challenges facing farms in priority watersheds throughout the state, according to the release.
Eligible projects include those that develop comprehensive nutrient management plans or implement best management practice systems to protect water quality while maintaining the economic viability of New York’s diverse agricultural community. Examples of projects include grazing systems to prevent soil erosion, vegetative buffers along streams to filter runoff and nutrient management systems for watershed protection.