MWCD, ODNR to work together on watershed projects

August 3, 2010

Projects to conserve and protect water and soils in the 18-county region served by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) have received a boost this year.

 

The MWCD and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Soil and Water Resources have finalized an agreement and work plan to assist landowners and communities to develop and install conservation projects. The work will improve water quality, reduce sedimentation to streams and lakes, reduce flooding and promote education for the conservation and protection of these natural resources.

 

The MWCD has invested $400,000 in 2010 for projects submitted by the staffs of the 18 Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices in the Muskingum River Watershed. SWCD officials will work with local landowners and communities to identify projects for consideration by the Division of Soil and Water Resources and the MWCD.

 

“What’s exciting about this is that by partnering with the state and county SWCD offices, we are already working with SWCD staff members out in the field with experience and relationships with property owners,” said Mark Swiger, MWCD’s conservation administrator.

 

Funding for the MWCD’s portion of the program is generated from the collection of assessments from property owners in the watershed for maintenance to protect the performance of the system of flood reduction and water conservation reservoirs and dams. Through the agreement with the Division of Soil and Water Resources, the MWCD funds will be directed to local projects throughout the watershed that are endorsed by county SWCD staff members who routinely survey and design conservation practices and programs to address agricultural and urban issues.

 

The MWCD anticipates it will receive a strong return on its funding since its participation often will be used to help supplement the local match requirement on projects that primarily are funded through other sources, Swiger said.

 

While the SWCD staffs will oversee the projects, the MWCD will be expected to provide payment only upon satisfactory project completion, said Fred Hammon, SWCD program manager of the Division of Soil and Water Resources.

 

“This is an agreement that has generated a great deal of enthusiasm at the state and county levels,” Hammon said. “We have some outstanding projects that will protect our natural resources that have been unable to move forward because of funding issues. This will enable many of these valuable projects in the MWCD region to be completed.”

 

The 18 county SWCD offices participating in the program are located in Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Harrison, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Washington and Wayne counties.

 

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Basin, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the reservoirs (including Atwood Lake) and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving more than 7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government.

 

For more information about the MWCD, visit www.mwcd.org.

 

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