February 5, 1999 | By: Mark Eclov

As if the deadlines for taxes and Y2K aren't enough to keep folks on edge... the date of October 23, 2001 has many Kentucky landowners worried about complying with the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act .

The Act was created to protect Kentucky's precious surface and ground-water resources from pollution as a result of agriculture and forestry related activities. Landowners farming or harvesting timber on more than ten acres of land are probably affected.

Some people are probably putting off the planning process because they think it will take a rocket scientist to create a water quality plan. Others are concerned that they may have to implement expensive management practices to comply with the act and are putting off the inevitable.

"We need to put a positive emphasis on this whole process right now," said Jennifer Cocanougher, Extension Associate for Environmental and Natural Resource Issues in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

"First of all, most water quality plans will be fairly simple to create," noted Cocanougher. "In a sampling of landowners who took water quality plan workshops in 1998, 83 percent of those individuals indicated that they were comfortable with their ability to complete a water quality plan."

"In many instances, a water quality plan will just document best management practices that farmers are already doing to protect water resources, " said Cocanougher.

"Over half of our workshop participants from last year's sampling said they would continue best management practices that they already had in place on their farms," she said.

A completed plan will help open doors to available funding for implementation of new best management practices.

"A third of the workshop sample group realized that they would need some technical assistance or cost-share dollars to implement new BMP's," continued Cocanougher

"There is state and federal program funding for projects which protect water resources," added Cocanougher. "Local Conservation District offices and Farm Service Agency offices also have information on water quality related cost share programs. But you need a water quality plan to obtain any of these funding options."

"Anyone who needs help should have little problem getting it," said Cocanougher.

"Our Cooperative Extension Service and Conservation Service staffs have been crafting water quality plans since 1996 and this experience has helped us to streamline the teaching process and training materials."

People can seek help from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Conservation, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the USDA Farm Service Agency, local Conservation District offices, the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, the Division of Water Regional office, and the Division of Forestry District office.

There are workbooks and computer programs that will guide participants through the entire process of assessing needs and developing a plan. For those who will feel more comfortable having an "expert" close at hand, there is a growing list of workshops and teaching teams available for step-by-step development of individual plans.

"For instance, the Cooperative Extension Service and the Division of Conservation have trained over a hundred county teams comprised of farm leaders who to do water quality plans," said Cocanougher. "A variety of other educational opportunities are being organized at the local level through various ag-related agencies."

"This is one deadline that needs to be addressed now for maximum benefit to all concerned," said Cocanougher. "In the process of coming into compliance with federal and state laws, landowners will identify land management practices that will benefit their operations long after the deadline passes."

 

Contact: 

Writer: Mark Eclov
(606)-257-7223

Source: Jennifer Cocanougher
(606)-257-6094