South Georgia farmers who need supplemental irrigation may be eligible for funds and technical assistance for constructing irrigation reservoirs or improving existing reservoirs on agricultural property.

More than $2.4 million is available under the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission’s (GSWCC) 2010 Ponds Program, a cost-sharing agreement. Ponds Program reservoirs retain rainwater for irrigation, reducing the demand for use of groundwater and maximizing the efficiency of irrigation systems. The GSWCC will oversee the program and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide technical assistance.

“Our South Georgia farmers are especially vulnerable to droughts and harsh weather,” said GSWCC Chairman Garland Thompson. “The federal assistance provided by the Ponds Program is vital to help farmers make the most of the rain we do get, while preserving the health of our aquifers.”

Under the program, landowners must provide 25 percent of the pond project, and grant funds provide the remaining 75 percent up to $50,000. Possible funding for irrigation nozzle retrofits is also available at $6 per linear foot of the center pivot irrigation system up to $5,000, as is an additional cost share on an end gun shutoff, which will be based on 75 percent of the original cost up to $3,000.

Applications will be accepted from July 1 to July 30.

For more information, contact the GSWCC office at (706) 542-3065 or visit http://www.gaswcc.org.