Spokane Conservation District offers improvement aid
The Spokane County Conservation District has a new program to help area ranchers and farmers handle mud and manure issues.
The 2014 Livestock and Land Program provide grants, low-interest loans and cost-share rates to landowners to enhance their livestock operations as well as make water quality improvements. The funding is made available by the state’s Department of Ecology, and is not specific to any one project.
“It allows comprehensive livestock improvement projects across the county,” district water resource manager Walt Edelen told the Cheney City Council at their April 22 meeting.
Applicants who meet eligibility requirements can get grants up to 75 percent of cost-share. Loans range from 3-5 percent based upon median income level, are typically five years and can be utilized to fund best management practices construction. Combination grant/loan projects are also possible.
Cost-share rates include up to $7,500 for heavy use areas, no limit for riparian fencing, up to $30,000 for off-creek watering and up to $12,500 for waste storage facilities. A 25 percent match contribution is a requirement.
Edelen said the district also has $750,000 in a funding mix from the DOE for its Septic System Repair Financial Assistance Program. Eligible county residents can apply for low interest loans, again 3-5 percent, and small grants for septic replacements, repairs and connections to sewers.
According to district information, the Spokane Regional Health District reports 66 on-site sewage systems fail each year, releasing bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and unwanted chemicals into the soil, and potentially into ground and surface water. Project priority will be given to aquifer protection zones, surface water quality and public health.
Edelen said even though applications aren’t available until May 1, the district already has a waiting list of 50 people signing up for what’s likely about 40 project allocations. He also said they have one individual from Cheney signed up for the Livestock and Land program.
Funding for the two programs comes from DOE’s Centennial Clean Water Grant Program. That program is funded through the state’s General Fund, primarily via the State Building Construction Account.
In administering the two programs, Edelen said the Spokane County Conservation District’s function is to provide technical assistance. The district has no regulatory authority over approved projects.
For more information on the two programs call the Conservation District at 535-7274.
John McCallum can be reached at email@example.com.