WESTFIELD - Water quality around Bournes Creek in Westfield will be improving, thanks in part to a large grant from the state.
Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $12.2 million would be going toward helping 209 farms in 27 counties throughout the state to protect lakes, streams and rivers from potential agricultural runoff. The assistance was awarded through the New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets and funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund.
"Well-managed farms are an integral part of New York's economy and landscape," Cuomo said. "Through this program, we are supporting farms across the state to put in place best practices when it comes to protecting water quality in their areas while ensuring the continued production of fresh, local food supply. Not only will these projects improve the environment, they will also help stimulate economic activity in the communities."
Eligible projects included those that developed comprehensive nutrient management plans or implemented best management practice systems to protect water quality, while maintaining the economic viability of New York's diverse agricultural community.
Chautauqua County received the third-highest amount of any county in the state. The Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District is receiving $875,720 to use toward a project in Westfield.
"The money will be used for three farms," said Dave Wilson, grant writer and retired district field manager, who is now a part-time field technician. "Waste management, integrated pest management and nutrient management. Those are the three principal things that it is going to involve."
Wilson explained the funds will be used to improve the water quality around Bournes Creek. He said there are residents along the creek who receive their drinking water from it and Lake Erie, so they will be the ones primarily affected by the grant. Additionally, Wilson said the farmers will be affected, as the project will still require them to pay for roughly 25 percent of the project.
"Anytime you can help water quality with that dollar amount, that's a good thing," Wilson said.