Grant for Water Quality Improvement Projects
ST. JOSEPH RIVER GROUP RECEIVES GRANT
FOR WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
Cost-Share Funds Available to Watershed Residents
FORT WAYNE, IN – The St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative has received a $274,500 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to improve water quality in Lower St. Joseph River and Bear Creek watersheds in Allen and DeKalb Counties. Grant funds will provide cost share assistance for a variety of water quality improvement projects on public and private property, as well as fund educational workshops and events.
“This grant will help the Initiative implement action items contained in the Lower St. Joe/Bear Creek Watershed Management Plan that was prepared by the Initiative and approved by IDEM in April 2008, “said Doug Fasick, Executive Director of the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative. “Funding from the State of Indiana will allow us to provide incentives to people who want to install rain barrels, rain gardens, naturalized shorelines, and other practices to improve water quality.”
The Lower St. Joseph subwatershed lies in Allen County and is predominantly urban and suburban. It includes a large portion of central and northern Fort Wayne north of downtown. The Bear Creek subwatershed includes the towns of Leo-Cedarville and Grabill in Allen County and the towns of St. Joe and Spencerville in DeKalb County. The predominant land use in the Bear Creek area is rural and agricultural. Water quality monitoring by the Initiative has shown that these subwatersheds exhibit the same issues found in the St. Joseph River watershed as a whole – large sediment loads and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria indicated by levels of E. coli bacteria that exceed the State’s limit for full-body recreational contact.
Fasick explained that the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative’s Board of Directors is seeking individuals who would like to serve on a committee to guide implementation of the grant between now and December 2020. “We hope that people who are interested in improving the quality of the St. Joseph River will help guide the programs that are being paid for with this grant. The money received from IDEM will pay for 60% of the total project investment of $457,500.”
In addition to sharing the cost of installation of water quality management practices on private property, the grant will help fund the installation of pet waste bag dispensers and collection points in public parks, construction of a covered hitching post in the Town of Grabill that will reduce the amount of horse manure being washed into local waterways when it rains, and a goose deterrent/shoreline naturalization project at the pond in Leo-Cedarville’s Riverside Gardens Park.
Community education programs will help residents understand the causes of river water pollution and how the St. Joseph River has a daily impact on drinking water, recreational activities and industry.
The St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative serves a six-county area in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The Initiative works to develop partnerships that promote economical and environmentally compatible land uses that improve water quality in the 694,400-acre watershed. The Initiative’s office is housed with Fort Wayne City Utilities at 200 E. Berry Street, Suite 250, Fort Wayne, Indiana.