CROWN POINT | Lake County commissioners agreed Wednesday to double the money they will give to farmers who reduce soil erosion and fertilizer runoff into county drains.
Commissioners, meeting as the county drainage board, voted to commit $8,000 to the planting of cover crops after this year's harvest. It will cover some 400 acres with so-called dry-fruit vegetation that absorbs fertilizer remaining in the fields rather than letting it be washed into waterways. The county subsidized 200 acres of cover crop last fall.
Lake County Surveyor George Van Til and Julie Duttlinger, administrator of the county soil and water conservation district, said Lake received state recognition earlier this year for cooperating with farmers on sustainable agriculture practices.
Duttlinger said the money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
"How odd is it that Lake, of all counties, gets an award for agriculture," Van Til said.
Commissioners are prepared to move forward as early as next month in planning improved stormwater drainage for 17 properties in the Willowdale Subdivision west of Crown Point and removing silt and vegetation clogging a retention pond in Schererville Heights, south of Schererville.
The county is responsible for stormwater drainage outside municipal boundaries.
The county also recently received new digital images from a recent aircraft flyover of the county to provide an updated photographic map that will feature more accurate stormwater drainage patterns. The state does a new flyover about once every decade.