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USDA funds efforts to improve water quality in Lake Erie

August 26, 2014
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The quality of the water in Lake Erie has been a matter of concern for some time. Recently, algae blooms in the lake led to a shutdown of the public water system in Toledo, Ohio.

Now, new federal funding is being made available to help implement conservation techniques that are expected to improve water quality. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that $2 million in conservation funds will be sent to Ohio to support a range of projects.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also partnering with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to expand local coverage and will be contributing an additional $1 million in technical assistance, which will be used by the NFWF along with other public and private entities.

In addition, USDA said that it is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help producers reduce soil and nutrient runoff by planting cover crops, controlling drainage and constructing systems like anaerobic digesters to reduce the amount of untreated effluent entering ditches, streams, rivers and lakes.

"Many farmers have consistently stepped up to the plate on efforts to protect our water and we want to provide support and incentives for continued action," Vilsack commented.

The Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of USDA, is inviting farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin to apply for resources that will help with the planting of cover crops on vulnerable soils in order to reduce soil and nutrient loss from farm fields.

USDA has invested $46 million in the Lake Erie watershed since 2009.

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