most significant achievement of the Cheney Lake Watershed is the partnership
of rural/urban stakeholders. Because the City of Wichita recognized
the value of correcting pollution problems prior to water entering the
reservoir, the City agreed to provide partial reimbursement to farmers
for implementing structural practices and incentives for improved management.
These water quality improvements are not often income generating assets
for the farm. Also, for the farmers, implementation carries the obligation
of maintaining the practices for the long term.
implementation of water protection practices has been initiated successfully
through one-on-one contacts with neighbors of the CLW board members
administering the project. Small informal meetings are held throughout
the winter months in machine sheds, kitchens, community buildings and
coffee shops. Board members personally invite and encourage other farmers
to attend. An ideal meeting size is less than fifteen people.
The watershed staff works with each farmer to develop solutions to water
quality concerns on their farm and to seek cost share funding to
implement the practices. The majority of practices are eligible for
existing state and federal cost share programs at a cost share rate of
50-70% of the county average cost of implementing that practice.
City of Wichita has agreed to reimburse the farmers for an additional
30% of the county average cost. Wichita has also agreed to reimburse farmers
for 50% of the cost of up to two miles of permanent perimeter fence
for grasslands that were established under the Conservation Reserve
Program. When a CRP contract expires, the fencing program provides an
incentive to keep the grass for grazing instead of returning the acres
to crop production.
this partnership between watershed farmers and the City of Wichita,
the farmers win when they install practices that improve their sustainability
and sometimes their economic returns. The City wins because the amount
of pollution entering the reservoir is reduced and the life of the reservoir