The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the State Soil Conservation Board (SSCB) recently distributed $901,500 to 92 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) through the Clean Water Indiana (CWI) program. These funds will help strengthen Indiana’s conservation efforts and address natural resource concerns at the local level. Administered by the SSCB, CWI is a water quality-related erosion and sediment reduction program funded from a portion of state cigarette tax revenue. Through the program, ISDA and the SSCB provide an annual match of up to $10,000 to SWCDs who receive funding from a local governmental entity. “I applaud our local leaders for their support of Indiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts, which continue to play a vital role in protecting our state’s soil and water resources,” said Ted McKinney, ISDA Director. “With their help, land users have been able to effectively implement conservation practices voluntarily for the past 75 years, so we have a conservation model that is working in Indiana.”
Recently, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 238 was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence which makes several changes to the CWI program, working to improve Indiana’s conservation efforts. Authored by Sen. Susan Glick (R-LaGrange) and Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), SEA 238 eliminates a barrier for SWCDs, who want to merge and share resources, by increasing the state’s matching grant based on the number of merging districts.
Additionally, the legislation allows a SWCD that did not receive the maximum amount of funding from a political subdivision to obtain additional funding from an alternative source and qualify for a CWI match. This law goes into effect on July 1, 2016. “By eliminating this barrier and providing additional resources, Indiana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts will be better equipped to improve overall water quality and soil health across the state,” said Jordan Seger, Director of ISDA’s Division of Soil Conservation. “Since our natural resources are critical to the future of agriculture, we must do everything we can to conserve them by assisting land users with their voluntary conservation efforts.”