County commit to lake project

The Auglaize County commissioners have agreed to again contribute to the Grand Lake-Wabash Watershed Alliance should a grant be received to continue funding the more than 12-year project.
Commissioner John Bergman said they agreed to again commit $3,000 each of the next three years beginning in 2012, if the grant is received by the Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District, which serves as the fiscal agent for the project. Contributions also would be made in 2013 and 2014.
Bergman said commissioners in Mercer and Darke counties also are being asked to contribute because the watershed extends into their counties.
The Darke County commissioners have agreed to make contributions during the next three years but have not committed to an amount, while Mercer County is contributing $13,000 each year and the city of Celina $5,000 each of the next three years, Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District Administrator Nikki Hawk said.
Hawk said that any funding received from public entities is matched by the state through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
If granted the $105,000 for which they applied, Hawk said they would continue their current project by funding the watershed coordinator position of Laura Walker to work on an improvement plan that has been developed.
“We’ve been working on the Grand Lake portion for approximately 12 years and five years ago combined the two projects,” Hawk said.
She described the plan as multi-facted in its approach and covering different land use from replacing failing septic systems to planting cover crops and working with farmers on manure application.
“It covers urban, rural, residential, business, recreational and agricultural uses, each with its own goals,” Hawk said.
She said if they receive the grant it will allow them to continue the good work Walker has been doing.
Bergman said without hesitation they agreed to help.
“Before they were assured the grant, now it’s competitive,” Bergman said of the better chances for receiving funding with county support.
The county has supplied the same to the project in the past.
“There is a good chance they will get grant funding with this in place,” Bergman said.
He said they felt it was the right thing to do and would lead to a lot more positives.
“Obviously, there are still ongoing concerns at the lake and we want to keep it on track,” Bergman said.