Mackinaw River Drinking Watershed Project

What Kind of Wetlands Are Needed?

The wetlands for this project are known as nitrate removal wetlands and are specifcally located and designed to intercept and treat agricultural drainage water. These wetlands have a strong record of success both in Illinois and Iowa agricultural watersheds, reducing nitrogen levels by 40-90%. Typically, they are small wetlands (2-5 acre pool size), and are made by digging down a few feet to drain tile. These wetlands are designed NOT to interfere with cropland drainage.

Why Treat Agricultural Drainage Water?

One of the most essential things in life is a clean water supply. The Mackinaw Drinking Watersheds Project is focused on reducing nitrogen levels in the City of Bloomington’s water supply. This is a voluntary, incentive based program to construct small wetlands in strategic locations to intercept and treat tile-drained runoff from farmlands upstream from drinking water reservoirs and the Mackinaw River; thus, providing benefits to the local community’s drinking water, the Mackinaw River, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

Agricultural drainage provides significant increases in productivity, but an unintended effect of the extensive subsurface drainage systems we have in this area is that in short circuiting natural drainage patterns nitrogen flushes from farm fields and funnels directly into local rivers and streams. In the City’s comprehensive watershed management plan, wetland placement in headwater areas is identifed among the most cost effective methods to reduce excess nitrates in the streams that flow into Lake Bloomington. High levels of nitrates in the water supply are a public health issue and contribute to poor tasting water.

How Do I Participate?

Financial support for construction of these wetlands and land rental will come through enrollment in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program’s Farmable Wetland Program in a new wetland practice called CP39. McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will continue to assist you as you work with the McLean County FSA office to enroll in CRP CP39.

After you enroll in CRP, you may also choose to enroll this land in a voluntary permanent CREP easement or a 15-year or 35-year supplemental CREP contract. McLean County SWCD will be able to guide you through this process and will hold any permanent easements.

More Questions and Answers

Mackinaw River
Mackinaw River Drinking Watershed Project
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Nature Conservancy

Cost Share/Rental Payments

For all CP39 enrollments, USDA Farm Service Agency provides:

* 15 years CRP rental payments + 20% * 50% cost share

* $100/acre upfront signing incentive payment (SIP)

* One-time practice incentive payment = 40% of eligible cost of practice installation on certain eligible CRP practices (PIP).

Cost share is not to exceed 50% of the eligible costs of establishing the conservation plan of operations approved practice(s) and any previously established not-to-exceed rates. PIP is payable upon completion/seeding of practice on an approved CRP contract and subject to other policies. As funding allows, Project Partners will provide up to 10% of additional cost share assistance.

If enrolled in supplemental CREP contracts or voluntary easements, DNR will provide a one-time, upfront payment. For permanent easements, the payment equals the CRP maximum annual rental rate (not including the 20% incentive) times 15 years times 30%.