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Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative

The Western Lake Erie Basin was made a priority area by USDA because of an increase of algal blooms in the area. Increased levels of phosphorus in surface water contribute to algal blooms which diminish water quality and are harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Agricultural land in the Western Lake Erie Basin was determined to be one of the sources of increased phosphorus in surface water due to water and wind erosion.

NRCS Chief Jason Weller unveiled the initiative on March 28, 2016 at an event with partners and stakeholders from the region at Maumee Bay State Park in Toledo, Ohio. This initiative will expand conservation and financial assistance opportunities available to WLEB farmers who want to take additional steps to improve the quality of the water feeding the lake. This funding is in addition to the $36 million the Agency has already planned to make available in the basin through the 2014 Farm Bill, for a combined three-year investment of $77 million to improve water quality and support sustainable production in the Basin.

2016 Sign-up Period

*Indiana NRCS is accepting applications for the WLEB Initiative until April 29, 2016.

For more information about  technical and financial assistance available contact your District Conservationist

Priority Areas

Since 2009, NRCS Indiana has invested nearly $12 million in technical and financial assistance to farmers in the Western Lake Erie Basin through Farm Bill Programs. The conservation improvements they have made through 465 conservation contracts now cover more than 118,382 acres.  Indiana farmers and landowners have stepped up, and with their help the conservation practices reduced annual nutrient and sediment losses by an estimated 180 thousand pounds of nitrogen, 89,000 pounds of phosphorous, and 160 million pounds of sediment between 2013 and 2014. These savings have resulted in cleaner water leaving farmlands in the basin.

The priority area includes parts of Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Noble, Steuben, and Wells counties. The financial assistance is available for producers to implement selected conservation activities that help prevent nutrients and sediment from agricultural land from entering Lake Erie, with an emphasis on phosphorus reductions. 

Full Size Indiana Map (PDF; 780 KB)

Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative Full Area Map (PDF; 342 KB)

Practice Information, Screening Tool and Ranking Sheet

For a list of practice guidelines and payment rates, please refer to the 2016 EQIP Practice Information.

Additional Resources

For More Information

For More Information about the WLEB Program, please contact Jill Reinhart, ASTC-Partnerships at:  317-295-5883