GREENCASTLE -- A little less than a year ago, the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWDC) received a grant of $161,150 to correct flood damage in the Big Walnut Creek Water Shed Alliance.
Today that money has all been spent to the benefit of more than 35,000 county citizens, plus numerous hikers, canoers and naturalists who all benefit from passable bridges and roadways, cleaned out drainage and waterways.
Putnam County was one of nine Indiana counties to receive money from the 2008 Indiana Natural Disaster Fund. These grants were established with a $45 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to the Indiana Association of United Ways.
"United Way provided the opportunity for the county to apply and receive the money," explained Dick Andis, local committee chairman for the fund. "We also had numerous people and agencies that came together to help accomplish this huge project."
The Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA and Big Walnut Creek Water Shed Alliance in specifying damage and measuring the costs incurred to assist in correcting flood damage.
They also worked with county commissioners and the highway department to identify key areas for restoration and repair near county roads and bridges.
"The June 2008 flood altered the natural course of the waterways in Putnam County. Large amounts of soil and vegetation were deposited into these channels, and watercourses were plugged by sediment and debris," said Sue Crafton with the SWCD at a meeting last fall.
"If we don't do something about these areas, increased flooding from rainfall will occur. Sediment will continue to build on the exposed areas. Farmland surface and subsurface drainage courses are blocked and sealed off as a result of sediment deposits," she explained.
The majority of the money was spent along Big Walnut Creek where most of the damage occurred. Most of it was dispersed to the county highway, which used its equipment to do the work
"Debris and sediment was removed for roadside ditches to restore adequate surface and subsurface drainage. Several threatening logjams were removed," explained Dick Andis, Local Committee Chairman for the fund.
SWCD continues to address logjams that still need to be removed and is currently working with the West Central Indiana Economic Development District to seed additional outside funding.
Landowners contributed to the restoration efforts to the tune of $104,250. This was 25 percent of restoration costs. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provided engineering assistance on these projects that included stream bank stabilization, erosion and sediment control as well as restoring damaged farm drainage.
Andis attributed the use of Work Force 1 Manpower in reducing labor costs allowing the committee to do more repair work and less replacement of culverts because of labor savings.
"This enabled more equipment to be used for the repair process that resulted in lower labor and higher equipment rental costs. A win-win situation in which more needed work was done while employing more people through the Work Force 1 program," said Andis.
"This grant allowed us to fund more projects with severe drainage issues, erosion and major logjams. The IND Fund grant allowed us to capture an additional $272,000 in matching funds from other private, federal and state grant programs," added Andis.
Credit also goes to the Putnam County Highway Department, which took care of any disposal needs as each project was finished.
"This saved contract costs and enabled us to redirect effort into more projects within the original grant amount," said Andis.
The entire restoration project was completed on May this year, well within the original projected timeline. Several organizations and agencies along with the landowners were involved in this countywide project.
Factors determining grant awards included local needs, available resources, the scale and type of damage, local demographics and other funding commitments. Applications were based on the recommendations of local United Ways or community foundations that worked with other local groups to set priorities for the funds.
For information about the IND Fund projects contact Dick Andis at 720-1342 or e-mail him at email@example.com.