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Project targets nutrients along Settingdown Creek

Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission seeking farmers’ cooperation

 
POSTED: July 14, 2014 12:03 a.m.

NORTH FORSYTH — The Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission is working with farmers to help reduce the nutrient levels in Settingdown Creek in northwestern Forsyth.

The creek is classified as an “impaired” body of water, meaning it does not meet water quality standards, said Carrie Fowler, nonpoint program specialist for the commission.

According to Fowler, when nitrogen and phosphorus levels are high in a body of water, aquatic habitats can be damaged. If the problem persists, the nutrients can harm fish.

“In the long run, it could cause fish kills and things like that,” she said. “We’re not facing any of that right now [in Settingdown Creek]. The goal is to not face it.”

To reduce nutrient levels in Settingdown, the commission is asking for the cooperation of farmers in the area. It will assess their farms and offer advice on how to improve the properties.

“We come out to the farm and go through what we’re calling a farm assessment, where we look at the total operation and what’s going on and pinpoint areas where the farmer could make some improvements,” Fowler explained.

Soil from each farm is then sent to the University of Georgia for testing. Fowler said farmers should know about the nutrients they are putting in their soil and how those can affect nearby bodies of water.

“You could be over-applying or you could be under-applying,” she said.

Farmers will receive an incentive payment, and the commission covers the cost of soil testing. Participants also will receive a record-keeping tool to track nutrient use.

Fowler said farmers can use techniques such as heavy-use livestock areas to help keep nearby bodies of water clean.

The project will receive funding from Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.

The commission recently completed a similar project on the Middle Coosawattee River in Gilmer, Gordon, Murray and Pickens counties.

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