In 2014, the Vanderburgh and Posey County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) decided to build a two-stage ditch in Southwest Indiana. They started seeking funds and were awarded a Clean Water Indiana (CWI) grant and a grant from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to complete this seemingly simple project. A planning committee was formed including Carrie Parmenter (Posey SWCD Technician), Mark Abell (Vanderburgh County SWCD Water Quality Specialist), Linda Voglund (Indiana State Department of Ag Resource Support Specialist), Brad Smith (The Nature Conservancy Lower Wabash and Wetlands Program Director) and Paul Breeze (then Posey County Surveyor). This committee spent countless hours researching possible locations for the two-stage ditch. Eventually, Metz Lateral was agreed upon as the location because of the proximately to a road, legal drain status and severity of the bank erosion.
The next step was to secure permission from the landowners. A meeting was held with landowners, Vectren Energy and Tom Metz, and the operators, Marvin Redman and Steve Reineke, to explain the project. Everyone was enthusiastic about the project and welcomed having the creek stabilized.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) volunteered to survey and design the two-stage ditch. After the initial survey, the design plan became complicated by the fact that the lower reaches of the stream became too deep and wide to make a two-stage ditch feasible. Eventually the design was able to be completed by Scott Wagner, NRCS Area Engineer, but approximately 750 feet remained untouched at the outlet of Metz Lateral.
The Posey County SWCD began applying for additional funding to stabilize the remaining 750 foot section. After being denied in 2015 and reapplying in 2016, the SWCD was awarded a Lake and River Enhancement grant (LARE) to design and build a stabilization structure on the southern end of Metz Lateral. The Nature Conservancy, the Posey County Drainage Board and the Posey County SWCD also contributed to the stabilization project. Wetland Services was awarded the bid to do the design/build on the lower section by the Drainage Board. The stabilization project has been surveyed and is currently being designed. Installation is anticipated in the summer of 2017.
In addition to the two-stage ditch and the stabilization project, the landowners and operators have utilized the Big Creek 319 Grant to install filter strips along the tops of the banks and plant cover crops last fall. The Big Creek 319 Grant was also used to pay for some additional expenses of the two-stage ditch that were not covered by the CWI grant.
In November, 2016, the two-stage ditch portion of Metz Lateral was completed and a workshop to showcase the project drew in 50+ participants. After this successful workshop, the International Society of Soil and Water Conservation announced they were seeking presenters for the 2017 Annual Conference which is to be held in Madison, WI in July, 2017. Scott Wagner and Carrie Parmenter approached the Society to see if they would be interested in the Metz Lateral project.
The International Society of Soil and Water Conservation did select the Metz Lateral Conservation project to be presented at the Annual Conference. This unique experience of 14 different private, corporate and government partners working together to create a comprehensive conservation project will be presented to the international audience this summer.
Anyone wishing to see the project can find an informational sign on the Pfieffer Road bridge in central Posey County or you can contact the Posey or Vanderburgh County SWCD offices for more information.