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Boatload of Money On the Way to N.C. Rivers

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WAYNE COUNTY — Hundreds of millions of dollars of our tax money is being spent to make sure our drinking water stays safe. It is a big investment to clean up our rivers, and it starts on the farm.

The money will be available immediately for nearly every river east of Raleigh.

Not only will wildlife benefit, but it will help clean up the drinking water supply for more than half a million people. $220 million federal dollars and $50 million state dollars will help farmers keep nutrients and sediment from leaking into the water.

"You can protect everyone. Why pit food against water when not one of us can live with either? Why not seek a sustainable balance," said Dan Glickman,U.S. Department of Agriculturesecretary.

Selected farmers will be paid to stop growing crops near nutrient sensitive waters. They would also be partially reimbursed for planting trees and shrubs to protect rivers and streams.

In the light of increasing water quality regulations, farmers say it is about time that the government helps growers comply.

"The government in recent years has come up with so many regulations and asked us to do it. With this program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, is the first time that the government has really said 'we're here to help,'" said farmer Bryant Worley.

Growers say they want the feds to remember that while this will help, farm run-off is not the only form of pollution. Sources like fertilizer in city sewer systems must also be addressed before the rivers are truly restored.

"What we need to have is a coming together of environmentalists, farmers, developers and any folks involved with the Neuse River basin. If we all join together, we can make this happen ," said farmer Tony Jones.

One farmer says he will believe it when he sees it. He says the government tends to have a few more strings attached.

Farmers can sign up as early as March 15 to find out more.


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