Indianapolis – On Friday, May 11, 2001, Governor Frank O’Bannon allowed the budget bill, passed by the Indiana General Assembly, to become law. The state’s budget included $1 million per year, for the next two years, for the Clean Water Indiana program. In 1999, the General Assembly passed legislation creating Clean Water Indiana, but appropriated no funds for the program. Clean Water Indiana provides funds to Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), to address locally identified natural resource concerns.
SWCD Supervisors, SWCD customers, and coalition members worked to secure the needed funding. The Clean Water Indiana Coalition includes many organizations, representing diverse interests. Coalition members include the Indiana Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Crooked Lake Association, Indiana Beef Cattle Association, Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Farm Bureau, Pheasants Forever, Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy.
The Clean Water Indiana program addresses water quality concerns by providing the needed support. Since 97% of rainwater falls on private lands, Indiana 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 local funds provided to Soil and Water Conservation Districts to address local non-point source pollution concerns.
Also, Indiana will use Clean Water Indiana funds to gain federal funding for conservation. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) provides incentives to landowners in priority watersheds, to install conservation practices. The CREP program matches state investments in conservation at a rate of 4 federal dollars for 1 state dollar. The Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy announced they would provide an additional $2.5 million if legislators fund Clean Water Indiana. The Nature Conservancy will spend the $2.5 million in the Tippecanoe River Watershed, a priority area for the organization.
For information about Clean Water Indiana, visit www.iaswcd.org, or contact: April Ingle, Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (317-692-7519).