Grants available for watershed restoration projects

In 2010, a coalition of county conservation districts, local and state government entities, private landowners and other interested parties decided to do something about water quality problems in the Hinkston Creek Watershed. Armed with a $484,000 Clean Water Act nonpoint source pollution control (319[h]) grant issued by the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW), they went to work to address impairments and improve water quality.

Three years later, the watershed is showing marked improvement through the application of best management practices and an expanding public consciousness of how to prevent nonpoint source pollution.

Each year, DOW makes available federal matching grants for projects that help clean up polluted streams, rivers, lakes, and groundwater and for projects that protect water resources. The grants are for watershed restoration projects and for watershed plan development as well as for other projects that reduce and prevent runoff pollution.

Runoff pollution, also known as nonpoint source pollution (NPS), is the No. 1 contributor to water pollution in Kentucky, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the impairments of rivers, streams and lakes in the state. Runoff pollution occurs when water runs across the land and carries sediment, nutrients, pesticides, metals, and animal and human waste into streams, rivers, and groundwater.

DOW administers the federal NPS grants, which are funded through Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act. The funds are provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and can be used to pay for up to 60 percent of the total cost for each project; a 40 percent nonfederal match is required.

The DOW gives priority to projects involving watershed plan development and implementation in impaired waters, as well as the protection of Special Use Waters (e.g., cold water aquatic habitat, exceptional waters, state wild rivers and federal wild and scenic rivers) with identified threats.

To be considered for this competitive 2014 funding, a project proposal form must be submitted by the Feb. 3, 2014, deadline. The DOW NPS staff will review the project proposals and rank them according to eligibility and priority criteria to determine if they warrant further consideration and formal applications. Grant applications will only be accepted by invited entities identified through the proposal process.

The project proposal form, along with supporting documents, can be found at http://water.ky.gov/Funding/Pages/NonpointSource.aspx. Proposals may also be submitted throughout the year for NPS program staff review and consideration for a future grant cycle. For more information, contact James Roe at 502-564-3410 or James.Roe@ky.gov.

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