H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program
COLUMBUS, Ohio – As part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is offering a new incentive program to encourage farmers to aid in conservation and improve water quality. ODNR will be accepting applications for its Water Quality Incentive Program (WQIP) from Dec. 1, 2020 through Jan. 29, 2021.
“Improving Ohio’s water quality is incredibly important,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Giving farmers an incentive to participate in this conservation process is another step toward clean water for future generations.”
The new program is being offered in combination with the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). CREP is a USDA conservation program that offers farmers and landowners financial compensation for taking cropland out of production and establishing conservation practices. The H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program will offer a one-time payment of $2,000 per acre for new Lake Erie CREP wetlands and forested riparian buffers (buffer strip with trees) to help improve water quality in the Lake Erie watershed. Wetlands and riparian buffers act as filters to reduce nutrient loading into waterways and help reduce flooding. Riparian buffers also stabilize streambanks to reduce soil erosion.
To qualify for the H2Ohio Water Quality Incentive Program, interested farmers and landowners must be eligible for CREP and submit an H2Ohio WQIP application during the announced sign-up period prior to their CREP contract approval. Applicants do not have to sign up for CREP prior to applying for the H2Ohio WQIP. However, if the applicant is approved for the WQIP, an approved CREP contract will be required to receive the WQIP payment. Applications will be scored and selected based on criteria to prioritize the best projects to improve water quality. The land for either practice must be eligible for Lake Erie CREP and the landowner must agree to a 14 ½ year agreement length.
The eligibility requirements for Wetlands are:
- Eligible practices – Wetland Restoration CP23 & CP23A(non-floodplain)
- Must receive agricultural drainage from cropland and/or livestock manure sources
- Minimum of 1-acre wetland surface area (wetland pool)
- Payment provided for wetland pool and buffer area (up to 4x wetland pool area)
- Must follow wetland management plan provided by ODNR Private Lands Biologist
The eligibility requirements for the Forested Riparian Buffers are:
- Eligible practice – Riparian Buffer CP22
- Must be in the 100-year floodplain
- Minimum average width of 100 feet
- Minimum of 3 acres in size
- 100% of the riparian buffer must be planted to trees and shrubs
- Must follow riparian buffer tree planting plan provided by ODNR Service Forester
- Lucas County producers interested in Lake Erie CREP Wetlands, contact Mark Witt ODNR at (419) 889-3706
- Lucas County producers interested in Lake Erie CREP Riparian Buffers, contact Sam Kaiser at (614) 420-6496
- Lucas County producers interested in either practice can contact Matt Browne, Lucas SWCD H2Ohio Technician at (419) 893-1966 ext. 3# or (419) 377-0901
If you are not a Lucas County producer, check out this map to find contact information for your county.
For more information about the H2Ohio Initiative, visit h2.ohio.gov.