Clean Water Act Projects
Limestone Valley currently has Clean Water Act Section 319 grants to improve the water quality in four watersheds in its eleven county area. The ultimate source of these grant funds is the United States Environmental Protection Agency, although the funds are managed in Georgia by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. These grants are generally intended to reduce nonpoint source pollution (e.g., fecal coliform bacteria, sediment, etc.) in watersheds having nonpoint source pollution-related impairments. In each of the four watersheds for which we have grants, impairments are present for both the likely presence of pathogens and human health risk (as indicated by high fecal coliform bacteria counts) and for impacted aquatic biotic communities (generally the result of sedimentation). For each of these watershed projects, a watershed management plan (WMP) has already been written by Limestone Valley describing how improvements to water quality will be realized. The development of these WMPs coincided with efforts to collect extensive baseline water quality data, conduct extensive watershed mapping, lead volunteer outreach events, assess the likely sources of the pollutants of concern within the watersheds, lead meetings with local stakeholders, and ultimately seek their approval of the plans in order to ensure community momentum and design the watershed improvement efforts according to the local watersheds. Currently, we are focused on implementing these plans, which involves putting projects “On-The-Ground” to improve water quality in these watersheds. Project components associated with these grants include cost-sharing with private property owners on agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and septic system repairs (generally where effluent is running off) to improve water quality. These particular programs are greatly assisted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the North Georgia Health District, respectively. Stormwater practices, streambank stabilization projects, and nutrient management planning are also being planned as part of the “On-The-Ground” water quality improvement projects. Other components of these grants include follow-up water quality sampling, fish and macroinvertebrate sampling, and various education and outreach events including Adopt A Stream workshops, canoe cleanups, riparian planting projects, and other volunteer events.
The pictures above show agricultural BMPs that were implemented as part of Clean Water Act grant implementation. The BMPs were intended to improve water quality and farm operations for the landowner. The top picture shows access control for the creek, whereas the bottom picture shows a heavy use area for winter feeding with an alternative watering system.