Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo awarded the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District $898,281 to implement agricultural best management practices in the French Creek and Chautauqua Lake watersheds.
Of the money, $598,310 will be used to control sediment and nutrients from entering the Chautauqua Lake watershed from agricultural practices.
"Since 2006, the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District has been successful in obtaining approximately $1.4 million in federal, state and local funds in an effort to reduce non-point source pollution problems and protecting water quality in Chautauqua Lake," said County Executive Greg Edwards. "These outstanding watershed projects, which often go unnoticed, have included stream and lake shore erosion stabilization, road ditch stabilization, best management practices on farms including nutrient management, manure pits, barnyard projects along with pasture and tillage practices to reduce erosion and prevent nutrients from reaching the lake."
The district has worked with farmers to adopt techniques and conservation practices that prevent soil erosion, improve soil health and protect water quality.
"Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District combines traditional practices with innovative technology that also helps farm businesses remain profitable," Dave Wilson, district manager. "Innovative manure systems now collect and destroy greenhouse gas, reduce odor, improve farm efficiency and keep water clean."
The district has administered more than $2.8 million in federal, state and local funds throughout the major watersheds in the county over the last six years, to protect and improve water quality. By combining the county appropriation for the Soil & Water Conservation District with state environmental protection money, the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District is able to leverage additional funding from various other sources multiplying Chautauqua County's investment.
"This translates to getting more conservation on the ground helping to protect drinking water, productive farmland, wildlife habitat, public health and safety. Their work helps to strengthen our agricultural and tourism industries, save taxpayer dollars and ultimately provide a healthier environment and economy for all residents of the county," Edwards said.
The Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District, a member of the Chautauqua Lake Management Commission, provides the expertise for meeting the county's natural resource needs by working with farmers, homeowners, contractors or communities, on voluntary, incentive based conservation programs. The district has the ability to work on both public and private lands, which allows it the flexibility needed to address local priorities related to all types of land uses, including watershed protection.
"Chautauqua Lake is listed as an impaired water-body under the Federal Clean Water Act 303 (d) due to excess levels of phosphorous present in the lake,'' said Jeff Diers, Chautauqua County watershed coordinater. "CCSWCD has continued its efforts to reduce non-point source pollution such as sediment and nutrients (including phosphorous), from waterways in Chautauqua County, including Chautauqua Lake."