Gum Creek Watershed Demonstration Project
Segars, William I.
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The Gum Creek watershed, located in Crisp and Dooly County, consists of 48,000 acres in the heart of Georgia's "farm belt". The watershed was designated as having a high priority for potential nonpoint source pollution by the state Environmental Protection Division in its non-point source (NPS) management plan. Portions of Gum Creek have been found to be eutrophic. The watershed supports intensive agricultural production systems of crops such as peanuts, cotton, orchards, small grains and soybeans. It is located in an area defined as a most significant groundwater recharge area. The overall purpose of the Gum Creek project is to increase voluntary adoption by farmers of innovative Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will protect and improve ground and surface water quality while maintaining productivity and profitability. Special emphasis will be devoted to installing cost effective BMPs that can reduce the loadings from nutrients and pesticides. The Gum Creek Water Quality Improvement Project will demonstrate an interagency approach to addressing agricultural water quality concerns. At least seven federal agencies, six state agencies, two Soil and Water Conservation Districts, two county governments, and many private citizens are cooperating to implement Georgia's first state-administrated agricultural cost-share program. The project will aid in development of the framework for a state-funded cost-share program to install BMPs on private land to improve water quality. It is anticipated that the project, over a five-year period, will significantly improve or protect water quality in Gum Creek and reduce nutrient loading in Lake Blackshear. Over 130 farmers in the watershed will receive direct benefits from the project; however, over 500 farmers in the adjacent area will benefit from seeing how water quality improvement projects can be established on farms. Ultimately, all farmers throughout the state will benefit because Gum Creek will serve as a model project for future development of water quality demonstrations. Total cost of the 1990-95 project is $973,000 from USDA funds and $200,000 from the US EPA.