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SWCD Watershed Program Grants

Helbender Preserve Area Photo

Hellbender Preserve Area, Jefferson County, Ohio

Program Background

This program's history dates back to the successful multi-agency legislative proposal, "A Proposed Action Agenda for Ohio Watersheds." Adopted with the Ohio Fiscal Year 2000-2001 Biennial Operating Budget, $300,000 was allocated to Division of Soil and Water Conservation (then a division of Ohio Department of Natural Resources) to support grants for local watershed coordinators. Additional funding was provided to Ohio State University (OSU) Extension to develop the Ohio Watershed Network, and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to enhance assessment and monitoring of watersheds.

Brochure Title, A Proposed Action Agenda for Ohio Watersheds

Funding was also initially provided from the Clean Water Act, Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program, administered by Ohio EPA; and from several Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) divisionsincluding: Mineral Resources Management, Wildlife, and Office of Coastal Management.


Over 50 grants have been awarded since 2001. Roughly half of the positions established as a result of the grants have continued to be supported by sponsor organizations long after grant closure, thereby establishing a professional infrastructure for watershed management in Ohio.

Map of Ohio Watersheds with Grant-funded Coordinators 2001-2015

Other outcomes:

  • 64 state endorsed watershed action plans;
  • $114 million in grants and other funding secured by watershed coordinators to focus on watershed implementation;
  • Dozens of water resource professionals now employed by various local, state, federal, academic and private institutions throughout Ohio trained and experienced in comprehensive, collaborative, science-based water resource problem solving;
  • Establishment of several regional watershed organizations within Ohio to promote networking and information sharing among and between watershed professionals including:
  • Scores of successful projects on the landscape improving water quality and building the knowledge of land managers and decision makers;
  • Measurable water quality improvements in many watersheds, including the highly successful Raccoon Creek watershed restoration. This watershed was severely degraded by acid mine drainage and supported very little life. Now because of the efforts of watershed coordinators and many partners working over a 15-year period, 115 miles of the creek are meeting the pH target of 6.5, and 42 miles of Raccoon Creek have improved enough to meet Ohio EPA water quality standards for aquatic life use. More data about Ohio's Appalachian watershed success stories may be found at www.watersheddata.com.

More on SWCD Watershed Program Grant status available here

SWCD Watershed Program Grants - 2019

DSWC and the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission continue to provide grants to facilitate leadership in local watershed management. While three grants continue with funding from ODNR Division of Wildlife to support full-time watershed coordinators in Captina Creek, Yellow-Cross Creeks, and Little Beaver Creek; a newly restructured grant program built on the success of the Ohio Watershed Coordinator Grant Program was launched in January 2018. Renamed as SWCD Watershed Program Grants, this new program differs in some important ways from previous iterations:

  • Grants are only available to Ohio SWCDs, however, strong partnerships remain critical to success;
  • Up to $40,000 per year may be requested for 3-year grants;
  • DSWC intends to continue providing for successful watersheds with follow-up grants beyond the initial 3-year grant;
  • and, rather than being limited to employing a full-time watershed coordinator, a participating SWCD may employ a team approach by indicating how various staff will fill watershed coordination roles and complete grant deliverables.