Grant money available to curb water pollution

Environmental experts are hoping a new grant will help clean up the Buxahatchee Creek Watershed in South Shelby County.

Money is now available to landowners who are willing to keep pollution out of the water.

A watershed is an area of land that separates water flowing to different rivers, basins or seas.

“The main goal, ultimately, is that we make an improvement in water quality,” said Glenn Littleton, watershed coordinator.

The majority of the grant money will address non-point source pollution, or pollution that has no clearly defined source. Most of this kind of pollution is related to farming and agriculture.

“We are reaching out to farmers to try and keep animals out of streams,” said Littleton. “That is one of our main targets: to reduce pollution.”

Buxahatchee Creek has failed to meet state water quality standards for wildlife and recreation waterways. The creek is listed as impaired for having too much nitrogen and phosphorus.

Too much of these nutrients leads to rapid algae growth, which kills fish and reduces overall water quality, Littleton said.

Grant money will be available to people living within the watershed on a 60/40 cost-share basis. The grant will pay for 60 percent of project costs with the landowner providing the other 40 percent.

Projects that qualify for the grant money will have to be approved by either the Shelby County or Chilton County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Some examples for farmers include cross fencing to keep animals out of streams, wells, piping and water trough construction.

Grant may be applied for until Dec. 31, 2010. All projects must be completed by May 31, 2011.

For more information, call 669-7136 in Shelby County or Littleton at 217-2592.

ADEM and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are funding the grants.

The Buxahatchee Creek Watershed encompasses almost 44,000-square acres in Shelby and Chilton counties. Most creeks in the watershed eventually flow into the Coosa River.

The watershed starts near the U.S. 31 and Interstate 65 junction in Calera and continues into Jemison in Chilton County. It’s western edge runs south along U.S. 31, while the watershed ends near where the Buxahatchee and Waxahatchee creeks combine near Lay Lake.