A farmland preservation group is hoping the city of Jacksonville will participate in a program to keep sediment out of Lake Mauvaisterre.
Mike Baise with American Farmland Trust and Jeff Beckler with Northwater Consulting met with City Council last week to explain the project.
Baise says the Lake Mauvaisterre watershed is one of six in the state on a high-priority list by the EPA, but it’s the only one not involved in a farmland preservation project, but Baise says an outreach and education plan is underway.
“We try to visit with farmers and landowners up in the watershed and convince them that they need to adopt best management practices and put in place sediment and erosion control structures,” says Baise.”
He says the city is eligible to receive a $300,000 grant to perform preservation work in the watershed. Baise says 60 percent of the funding would come from the federal government with 40 percent to be matched. He says the idea is to have farmers give 20 percent to the project and the city to commit the other 20 percent.
“I’m here to ask the city to consider being a partner with us in a follow on grant or an implementation grant where we would actually provide dollars to the farmers to put on the land itself, which would hold back sedimentation and protect your investment in the dredging project,” says Baise.
The city is spending about $3.7 million to dredge up to 600,000 cubic yards of sediment out of Lake Mauvaisterre.
“If you’re about to spend millions of dollars in dredging and you don’t address the problem up in the watershed then you run the risk of having the problem recreate itself,” says Baise. “Whereas if you invest a little bit of money in the watershed you will extend the life of your dredging project.”
Beckler says similar projects at Otter Lake watershed in Macoupin County are preventing about 16,000 tons of sediment material from entering the water.
“Those included about 44 water and sediment control basins, seven ponds, two terraces – those really long berms you see in the crop ground – and some rock grade control structures like those rock structures you might see in a ditch,” says Beckler.
Lake Mauvaisterre is the city’s backup water source making it a high-priority watershed for the EPA.
City Council has several months to make a decision on the project. Baise says his group hopes to apply for the grant next summer.