Clean Water Indiana Program Seeks Funding to Improve Water Quality
Conservation Partnership seeks funding to address Indiana’s number one water quality concern, non-point source pollution.
Indianapolis—most hoosiers desire clean, safe water for drinking, recreation, wildlife habitat, and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. In Indiana, though, many people experience lakes and streams clogged with algae, weeds, and sediment from erosion or excess nutrients. E. coli levels do not allow full body contact in most Indiana rivers. Several Indiana cities, including Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis, spend significant funds to treat river water to render it drinkable.
While these water quality concerns exist, Indiana counties receive the lowest funding of all Midwestern States to address local natural resource concerns. In 1997 Ohio’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) received $11 million from Ohio State Government, while Indiana’s SWCDs received $1 million. In surrounding states, SWCD funding ranged from $3 to $5.8 million. At the same time, federal funds for conservation work could not meet the demands. Landowners requested over $7.5 million from the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, with $2.5 million available. EPA’s Section 319 Program received $5 million in requests, with $1 million available. The Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s Lake and River Enhancement program experienced a similar shortfall. These numbers prove Hoosiers want to address water quality and natural resource concerns, to succeed they must receive the necessary technical and financial assistance.
The Clean Water Indiana program addresses water quality concerns by providing the needed support. During the 2000-2001 legislative session, the Indiana Conservation Partnership will request $20 million for Clean Water Indiana funding from the Indiana General Assembly. The $20 million will be used to abate non-point source pollution by funding new technical and managerial positions, cost share programs, and state matching dollars for local investment.
Indiana landowners require assistance with conservation planning and non-point source pollution abatement. Many SWCDs need the expertise of a professional manager to effectively address natural resource concerns. The Clean Water Indiana program will fund new staff that will provide the much needed technical and managerial support. Technical staff will assist land-users in the planning and application of conservation practices to control non-point source pollution from urban and rural sources. Managerial staff will work locally in Indiana’s counties, and will develop and coordinate SWCD conservation programs aimed at reducing pollution from non-point sources.
Since 97% of rainwater falls on private lands, Indiana also needs the voluntary cooperation of landowners to implement conservation practices on private lands to effectively control non-point source pollution. In most cases, the expense of implementing conservation practices proves cost-prohibitive for the landowner. The Clean Water Indiana program provides funds to share these costs with private landowners.
Additionally, Indiana’s 92 SWCDs locally identify natural resource concerns for their county, and carry out projects to address those concerns. The Clean Water Indiana program will match, dollar for dollar, local funds provided to Soil and Water Conservation Districts to address local non-point source pollution concerns.
The Indiana Conservation Partnership defined these funding components to address Indiana’s urgent water quality protection needs. In 1999 the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation creating the Clean Water Indiana fund, with no dollars appropriated. Many volunteers from across the state currently work with their legislators to fund Clean Water Indiana in the 2001 budget.
For More Information about how you can get involved with the Clean Water Indiana Program, Contact April Ingle, IN Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (317) 692-7519.