The Board of Public Works yesterday approved $263,9111 in Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share grants, which help farmers install best management practices that significantly reduce nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and accelerate Bay restoration. The O’Malley-Brown Administration has supported more farmer pollution reduction projects cost-share program than any other administration in the nearly three decades since the program began.
The Board approved grants for 12 projects in 5 counties that will prevent soil erosion, manage nutrient pollution and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Together, these projects will prevent 2154.54 pounds of nitrogen, 722.69 pounds of phosphorus, and 19 tons of soil from entering the Bay and its tributaries. These projects are funded by state general obligation bonds.
“Our farmers are true partners in protecting our natural resources, and Maryland continues to support their efforts by providing grants to install proven conservation measures and innovative, state-of-the-art practices,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Working together, we can ensure a smart, green and growing environment for future generations, preserve open space, and maintain the rich agricultural heritage of our State.”
For the past 28 years, the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) Program has been providing farmers with grants to cover up to 87.5 percent of the cost to install conservation measures known as best management practices (BMPs) on their farms to prevent soil erosion, manage nutrients and safeguard water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
Since the program started in 1984, farmers have installed 21,900 water quality projects. The average lifespan of a BMP is 10 to 15 years. Over the last 15 years, farmers spent $15.8 million of their own money to match $72.8 million in state cost share to install more than 10,800 water quality projects (not including annual practices like planting cover crops). Installation of agricultural BMPs on farmland is a key feature of Maryland’s recent plan submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Grassed waterways constructed to prevent gully erosion in farm fields, streamside buffers of grasses, trees planted to filter sediment and farm runoff, and animal waste management systems constructed to help farmers safely handle and store manure resources are among more than 30 BMPs currently eligible for MACS grants. For a summary of Maryland Agricultural Cost Share Program Grants by County as of March 5, 2014, visit: www.mda.maryland.gov/Documents/bpw_macs-03-05-14.pdf