Cleaning up reservoir is everybody’s business

By now, all of the residents of Marion County should have received the first issue of many more to come of the Marion Reservoir WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) project newsletter.

The newsletter was sent to every household in Marion County and will be sent to the residents and landowners of McPherson County that are in the Marion Reservoir Watershed.

This first newsletter was intended to inform everyone of the types of programs that are available to producers and landowners within the watershed, and to inform the general public about the programs.

I was hired in December 2002 as coordinator of the Marion Reservoir 319 Water Quality Project. You may remember reading about that.

Since then, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has changed the name to the WRAPS project.

I have seen the good stewards of our land within the watershed implement many “best management practices” to improve water quality. Following is a list of what has been accomplished.

— Terraces: 63,945 feet.

— Critical area planting: 42.5 acres.

— Cropland converted to pasture: 158 acres.

— Diversion terraces: 720 cubic yards.

— Waterways: 131.9 acres.

— Livestock diversion: 825 feet.

— Cropland to range: 332.8 acres.

— Filter strip buffers: 67.5 acres (treats 8.8 miles of stream).

— Contour buffers: 10 acres (treated 33).

— Waterway seeding: 212 acres.

— Household waste water systems: two through non-point source program, seven received no cost-share.

— Livestock waste: one through non-point source program.

Many other practices are scheduled but not implemented, such as an additional 92,000 feet of terraces.

Each practice that is implemented will improve the water quality within Marion Reservoir. When cropland is converted to pasture or rangeland, and that land otherwise is highly erodible, significant erosion of the land does not occur. Terraces are another practice that saves precious top soil.

The nutrient level within the reservoir is partially caused by sediment from the shoreline, stream banks and cropland. Livestock waste systems not properly implemented and cattle drinking from or standing in our streams can add to the nutrient load.

All of the above practices address this issue. A workshop will be conducted in late summer or early fall on nutrient management. Certified plans will be available to area producers.

Everyone should remember this is strictly a volunteer program. Seventy percent cost share is available for any “best management practice” implemented within the watershed.

We have implemented a significant number of BMPs; however the funds for cost-share will not always be available. The Marion Reservoir WRAPS Project has three years left in the program.

The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land-whether the water is in the reservoir, in our tributaries or groundwater in our wells.

Protecting our water supplies is the responsibility of all us, whether we live in the country or cities. Without water, that precious natural resource, life of any kind could not exist.

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