A project along Stoddard County's Lick Creek Ditch has gotten a grant of more than $500,000 to to be used toward improving water quality in the Mississippi River Basin, it was learned Wednesday.
According to the office of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the grant to Stoddard County is one of 23 water quality improvement projects that were funded in the nine Mississippi River Basin states.
A total of $8.4 million in financial assistance will be available to support the 23 partnership projects that fall under USDA's Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI).
Stoddard County's Lick Creek Ditch runs from northwest of Bloomfield due west to the Dudley area and then directly south to Otter Slough before emptying into the St. Francis River, eventually spilling into the Mississippi.
The goal of the project is to improve the quality of that water that eventually meets the Mississippi by preventing sediment and nutrient runoff into the Lick Creek Ditch as it runs through Stoddard County.
"We are building on our Mississippi River actions from previous years by continuing to target priority conservation practices in priority watersheds to improve water quality in the basin," Vilsack said in making the funding announcement this week. "USDA is committed to working cooperatively with agricultural producers, partner organizations and state and local agencies to improve water quality and the quality of life for the millions of people who live in the Mississippi River Basin."
The 23 selected projects include initiatives in Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The three other projects in Missouri are in Putnam, Macon and Randolph counties.
Stoddard County's total allocation to fund the Lick Creek Ditch project is $540,653, representing by far the largest allocation of the Missouri projects.
Putnam County will receive $50,000, Macon County $376,668, and Randolph County $366,188 for a total in Missouri of $1,333,509.
Selections for funding were based on the potential for managing nitrogen and phosphorus -- nutrients associated with water quality problems in the Basin -- while maintaining agricultural productivity and benefiting wildlife, according to Vilsack.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service manages the initiative.