Marion council discusses payment amounts for WRAPS grant

Marion City Councilors voted 3-2 in favor of paying $7,500 of the $30,000 needed for a $300,000 federal grant to benefit Marion Reservoir.

?It would behoove cities to back the county on this one,? said Peggy Blackman, coordinator for the Watershed Restora?tion and Protection Strategy program in cooperation with Natural Resources Conservation Service, regarding the innovation grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Mayor Mary Olson asked about the money and when it would be needed.

Blackman said it wouldn?t be until the 2011 budget year.

City Administrator David Mayfield told council members the budget for 2011 hadn?t been passed yet, so it could be added.

?With just what we have budgeted right now, it?s going to call for an increase in the mill levy,? he said.

Representing the Marion County commis?sioners, Dan Holub said grant was important to everyone in the county.

?Marion County has provided money for the WRAPS program since 2006,? he said. ?For the last three and a half years, the county has provided data collection (for water quality monitoring).?

Holub said the commissioners need some help on this one.

?If we don?t come up with $30,000, then we would be giving up $300,000,? he said.

The local match, Holub said, would go toward continuing water-quality monitoring in 2011. The $300,000 grant would address blue-green algae and diminishing water capacity.

Using the service grant, ponds could be built to capture silt or dredge ponds with large backhoes to slow down the algae, he said.

?As for the reservoir itself,? Holub said, ?we are going to have capacity problems (caused by the silt).

Blackman was asked about the likelihood of receiving this federal grant.

?We should know in a couple of weeks,? she said. ?With this grant, we would also cover BMPs (best management practices).?

Councilor Bill Holdeman asked what the city of Hillsboro was planning to do about paying part of the cost.

Mayfield said he thought the $30,000 local match would divided so the county paid $15,000 and Hillsboro and Marion would paid $7,500 each.

Although Holub said he wasn?t speaking for the entire county commission, he did say he would prefer the county pay one-third, but he would settle for half the cost.

The issue was raised whether Hillsboro, since it sells water to Peabody, should pick up a greater share of the cost. But other city of Marion council members said it that wasn?t for them to be discussing.

?If the county has to fund the entire $30,000, it will raise taxes,? Holub said. ?Burns, Tampa and Ramona are paying tax dollars to save the reservoir (and they don?t even use it).?

The issue is whether people are worried about a drink of water in 2015, he said.

Blackman distributed handouts regarding the Marion Reservoir watershed data collection from 2006-10.

She highlighted eight things that either have been completed, are in the process of completion, or are ongoing.

Those included:

? Rapid assessment modeling, which is being done and upgraded. The inventory of land use and better management practices status are paid for by WRAPS of Marion County.

? The streambank survey was completed and paid for by WRAPS of Marion County. It reviewed hot spots with silt.

? Bathymetric survey was completed by and paid for by the Kansas Water Office.

? Sediment core sampling is completed, noting the blue-green algae, and was paid for by WRAPS of Marion County.

? Water quality monitoring continued through Kansas State University starting in 2007.

? Marion County has provided $155,000 since 2007 to 2010 in matching federal grant money and conducting data collection.

? The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has cut grant funds for 2011, which was used for water quality monitoring. Holub said with this cut, the state is saying the county is on its own.

? The conservation innovation grant is pending for $300,000, which Blackman reiterated would be used for better management practices on land where none have been implemented. A 100 percent cost-share would be available.

After hearing Holub and Blackman?s presentation, Olson said she thought it would be a good way to solve problems in the long run.

According to Blackman, Marion County will run out of surface water by 2050 unless extreme measures are taken.

?This will not affect us, but it will affect future generations,? she said. ?It?s a huge issue.?

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