Along with Shelby, Johnson, Henry and Hancock, Rush County can apply for funding for the Lower Big Blue River Watershed Project in partnership with County Soil and Water Conservation Districts. 

The Lower Big Blue River Project focuses on protecting and improving water quality and soil health within the Lower Big Blue River Watershed. The Shelby County SWCD initiated the Lower Big Blue River Project to generate interest in conservation while drawing attention to the condition of the water bodies within the county boundaries. 

In 2014, IDEM published a report noting high E. coli levels in the Lower Big Blue River Basin. The Shelby County SWCD and partners launched the watershed planning project following this report. This project now enters its second phase, focusing on implementing on-the-ground conservation practices and providing education and outreach about these practices and opportunities to engage with the Big Blue River.

Funding is gained from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Section 319 program for local counties mentioned to enhance Lower Big Blue River and its tributaries. In addition, the grant will provide funding for agricultural producers within the creek's target drainages to improve water quality on their property. 

The Lower Big Blue River Watershed Project will use over $180,000 by
providing up to 75% of the costs for qualified agricultural projects. To receive funding, projects must meet three criteria: 
1) Be located within the target area 
2) Be a project type listed on the fundable projects list 
3) Be approved by the project's technical committees and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

To learn more about the project, view the map, details of the qualifications, and/or to apply for cost-share funding, visit or contact your local soil and water conservation district or Sara Peel at [email protected] or (765) 337-9100.