Grants available for lowing pollution levels in state waterways

The Yahara Watershed Improvement Network is now accepting grant proposals for 2018, with a goal of lowering pollution levels in Wisconsin waterways.

The WINS partnership has made available $60,000 for projects aimed at reducing levels of phosphorus, which contributes to algae overgrowth. Phosphorus pollution comes from agricultural runoff and urban stormwater.

Two types of grants will be awarded: conventional grants, which can be as large as $20,000; and innovation grants, which go up to $10,000.

Conventional grants will go toward projects in the Yahara watershed that have been shown to reduce phosphorus, like agricultural buffers, cover crops, leaf and stormwater management in urban areas, and others.

Innovation grants will fund untested approaches to this issue, and aren’t restricted to the watershed.

“Practices to reduce urban and rural runoff are cost-effective solutions to phosphorus pollution in our waters,” said Martin Griffin, president of the Yahara WINS executive committee.

These grants have been given out annually since 2013, supporting projects like restorations of prairies and streambanks, bioretention facilities for stormwater, and improved manure management systems at farms.

Since it started, the grant program has awarded over $270,000 and kept an estimated 52,859 pounds of phosphorus out of local waters. On top of the grants, WINS funding supports ag management practices and water quality monitoring.

Yahara WINS is led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District and supported by 23 partners, including municipal entities, farmers associations and water stakeholder groups. Through their efforts, about 29,000 pounds of phosphorus were kept out of local waters in 2016, exceeding the target reduction level for the year.

Applications are due May 18, but if funding is still available after that date, later submissions will be considered.

See the partnership’s 2016 report:

–By Alex Moe