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$7.5 Million for Local Farmland Protection Reduces Flooding & Benefits Lake Michigan

04/19/20 02:00:pm

Contact: Bill Graffin

MMSD Public Information Manager

(414) 225-2077

(Milwaukee, WI) – Improved drinking water protection and reduced flooding rise to the top of a long list of positive impacts that will result from a newly awarded $7.5 million collaborative effort with federal, state and local partners to carry out land and water conservation work in the Milwaukee River Watershed for five years, starting in 2021.

An initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the money is awarded to the Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership through the U.S. Farm Bill of 2018 and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

farmers and dog looking at soil in field

Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partners will work with land owners to achieve healthy soils, improve stormwater management and groundwater recharge, and reduce water pollution to waterways that make their way to Lake Michigan.

As a lead coordinating partner, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) will utilize a portion of the award to preserve more than 1,500 acres of farmland and open space in the Milwaukee River Watershed floodplain through the Working Soils® Program and the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. MMSD is supporting the overall program with a yearly investment of $1.6 million in land conservation and water quality protection.

Working Soils® aims to reduce the risk of flooding by permanently protecting privately held priority-agricultural land through voluntary conservation easements. The program works with interested and eligible landowners to acquire permanent agricultural easements that allow landowners to privately own and work their land. As part of the agreement, NRCS staff will work with landowners to improve soil health and to reduce erosion and nutrient loss by utilizing priority practices that include: grassed waterways, conservation cover crops, critical area plantings, pollinator prairie strips, harvestable field borders, and filter strips.

Permanently protecting undeveloped land in floodplains helps keep natural areas connected and provides environmental benefits naturally at a much lower cost than large scale, engineered flood management projects that accompany future development.

“Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own. We’re excited to continue the Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District through RCPP.” said Angela Biggs, State Conservationist in Wisconsin.

Program Partnerships:

Milwaukee River Watershed Conservation Partners include:

USDA NRCS Logo mmsd logo
cedar lakes conservation logo village of grafton logo
ozaukee washington land trust logo
village of jackson logo

Land and Water Conservation Departments of:

sheboygan county logo fond du lac county logo
ozaukee county logo washington county logo

Producer-led watershed protection groups:

clean farm families logo
cedar creek farmers logo