USDA ANNOUNCES PROTOTYPE TO RESTORE WETLANDS IN UTICA, NEB.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2004 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced, in cooperation with several state and federal agencies, a project to remove contaminants from groundwater. The project will protect public health while assisting the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to restore 364 acres of historic wetlands in the North Lake Basin Wildlife Management Area north of Utica, Neb.
"This approach to cleaning Utica's municipal groundwater contamination will also provide habitat for waterfowl," said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. "Through the beneficial reuse of water, this technique can treat contaminated water, which can then be used for beneficial applications, such as irrigating croplands or creating wetlands."
Concern about contamination in Utica's water and some other rural areas has focused on the commonly accepted use of fumigants (generally in the 1940's and 1950's) containing carbon tetrachloride to treat stored grain. A small-scale USDA pilot project was launched in 2000 to clean up Utica's groundwater. Its success led to today's prototype in the North Lake Basin, located just north of Utica. Less than 5 percent of the 364-acre North Lake Basin near Utica currently contains water available for waterfowl habitat. This project will provide clean water and create additional waterfowl habitat.
This project uses spray irrigation technology and wetland restoration to restore contaminated groundwater through beneficial reuse. The prototype uses specially designed irrigation equipment to "volatilize" or evaporate the carbon tetrachloride contaminants into the air in a manner that will protect public health. The method, which eliminates up to 98 percent of the contaminants, was first demonstrated by the University of Nebraska under initial USDA and Environmental Protection Agency funding. USDA expects to use a similar approach in other rural areas in Nebraska and Kansas, benefiting public health, wildlife and the environment.
Partnering with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) in this prototype are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII; Natural Resources Conservation Service; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality; Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District; Rainwater Basin Joint Venture; Ducks Unlimited; and the City of Utica. The North Lake Basin prototype was developed by Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with FSA. For information on FSA's conservation and environmental programs, contact your local Farm Service Agency office or visit FSA's Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.