The 231-mile long Scioto River and its 3,000 miles of tributaries flow 6,300 miles through all or part of 31 central and southern Ohio counties, draining nearly a half million acres before it joins with Ohio River. Agriculture has long been the dominant land use; years ago, outdated farming practices were responsible for creating drainage ditches and channels that increased the nutrient and sediment load to the river. Today, runoff from agricultural lands, from urban areas, and from substandard rural septic systems still dumps nutrients, sediment, chemicals, and potential pathogens into the Scioto River and its tributaries, where they eventually flow downstream to the Gulf of Mexico.
The watershed is home to nearly two million Ohioans and a major source of public drinking water. More than twenty municipal water systems use surface water, while others draw water from wells adjacent to tributaries and the River. The watershed also harbors endangered mussels and fish that are affected by pollution in the watershed.
Watershed partners are using the Federal CREP to offer incentives to farmers and other landowners to plant trees and establish conservation buffers and wetlands on 70,000 acres alongside the River and its tributaries. State CREP partners developed the target area, conservation issues to be addressed, will contribute funds to the federal cost-share program, and will provide technical assistance to landowners.
Examples of Key Partners
USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, City of Columbus, Ohio State University Extension, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
Results and Accomplishments
Since the project began in October 2004, the State of Ohio and local partners have pledged $56 million to implement the program. The USDA will provide $151 million in CREP funds. Farmers have enrolled nearly 1,000 acres into riparian buffers, filter strips, wetlands, and other conservation practices since March 2005.
The Ohio Scioto River Basin CREP is using State and Federal
funds and technical assistance to encourage Scioto River
Watershed farmers and other landowners to adopt conservation practices, protecting and improving water quality for 20 municipal water systems.