New federal resources awarded will help improve water quality at Grand Lake St. Marys, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced on Wednesday.

Brown announced $1 million in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program efforts in the Grand Lake St Marys watershed.

According to NRCS Chief Dave White, there is a sizable waiting list of agricultural producers with pending applications for EQIP resources. EQIP offers technical assistance for farmers to plant cover crops, build manure storage facilities, install filter strips, and complete other conservation measures that keep phosphorus out of Grand Lake St Marys. Studies on Grand Lake St. Marys have shown that excess phosphorus loading of the lake has been the primary reason for toxic algae blooms during the past two summers. 

Grand Lake St. Marys has been ravaged by toxic blue – green algae. The algae has left the lake unsafe for swimming, and contributed to a decline in tourism, which has reduced economic activity and local business in the area.

In April 2010, Grand Lake St Marys received $1 million in funding for the creation of buffer strips along creeks running into Grand Lake St. Marys and for the planting of cover crops. In February 2008, U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded funding to help farmers in Auglaize and Mercer counties participate in a special demonstration project aimed at keeping nutrients and organic material out of area water supplies.