The H2Ohio initiative to improve water quality in the Lake Erie watershed is awarding a total of more than $5 million to 150 new projects. The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program (WQIP) began accepting funding applications in November from farmers and landowners willing to replace cropland with wetlands and riparian buffers which act as filters to reduce nutrient loading into waterways, help reduce flooding, and/or stabilize streambanks to reduce soil erosion.
“The high interest in this new program shows that our agricultural community is taking water quality seriously,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “With their help, we continue to make progress toward healthier water in northwest Ohio.”
The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program is providing a one-time payment of $2,000 per acre for projects participating in the WQIP program. The program was offered in combination with the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a USDA conservation program.
“By working with federal, state and local partners, we are empowering area producers and landowners with the tools that they need to apply a focused set of practices on their land,” said John Wilson, Ohio Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting State Conservationist. “This complementary program approach will increase the footprint of wetlands on the landscape, accelerating efforts to improve water quality by preventing nutrients from entering Ohio streams and lakes.”
Projects have been accepted in 23 out of the 27 Lake Erie CREP counties. Out of the 150 approved projects, 133 will construct wetlands (2,422.5 acres) and 17 will create riparian buffers (113.5 acres).
A full list of accepted projects is available at h2.Ohio.gov.
“There is so much potential for these projects to help with the overall quality of water in Lake Erie,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “I am thrilled that so many people decided to take advantage of a program that can do so much good for everyone in Ohio.”