USDA Announces New Water Conservation Funding for Ogallala Aquifer Region

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has just announced that it is investing $6.5 million in FY ’15 funding through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality over the next four years. Funding will be targeted to seven focus areas in five states (Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies.  The Ogallala supports nearly one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cotton and cattle produced in the US. It has long been the main water supply for the High Plains’ region and is being depleted at an unsustainable rate.  This conservation investment builds on $66 million that NRCS has invested through OAI since 2011, which helped farmers and ranchers conserve water on more than 325,000 acres.   View the NRCS news release HERE.

USDA Now Accepting FY ’16 Proposals for Regional Conservation Partnership Program

USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is now accepting proposals for FY ’16 projects.  ASDWA encourages states to consider partnering with your water utilities and their local producers to submit a project proposal aimed at improving or protecting drinking water quality.  RCPP efforts are intended to increase the restoration and sustainable use of soil, water, wildlife and related natural resources on regional or watershed scales.  Eligible partners include:  state, local, and tribal governments; water utilities; private companies; universities; non-profit organizations; and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives.  Last year, the RCPP funded 115 projects across all 50 states and Puerto Rico for a total of more than $370 million, and were estimated to leverage an additional $400 million in partner contributions.  This coming year, the RCPP will again provide $225 million for projects (at up to $10 million per project) through three funding pools:

Iowa serves as a great example for other states who are considering partnering on RCPP projects.  In Iowa, the state drinking water program partnered with the City of Cedar Rapids on the RCPP funded Middle Cedar Partnership Project to work with local conservation partners, farmers and landowners to install best management practices such as cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands and saturated buffers to help improve water quality, water quantity, and soil health in the Cedar River Watershed.

Pre-proposals for the RCPP are due July 8, 2015. For more information and to apply, read the announcement for program funding and visit the NRCS web page.

April 28th CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar Video Now Available

Thanks to everyone who was able to join us for the April 28th CWA-SDWA Toolkit Webinar on Using Water Quality Standards, Monitoring, Assessment, and Impaired Waters Listings to Protect and Preserve Drinking Water Quality.   Approximately 195 people participated from across the nation representing multiple state water programs, EPA Headquarters and Regions, and other agencies and organizations.  The audio/video recording of this webinar and the presentations highlighting more detailed information about Sections 1 – 2 of the toolkit, as well as three state examples from New York, Oregon, and Colorado are now available on ASDWA’s web site at www.asdwa.org/sourcewaterprotection.  You may also view the video HERE.

USGS Publishes Water-Energy Nexus Report

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has published a report entitled, “The Water-Energy Nexus:  An Earth Science Perspective.”  The intent of this report is to provide scientific insight to resource managers and the general public on the complex ways in which water and energy are interconnected and to highlight the important issues that affect availability and sustainability of water and energy resources in the US.  Issues analyzed and discussed in the report include freshwater availability; water use; ecosystems health; assessment of fossil-fuel, uranium, and geothermal resources; subsurface injection of wastewater and carbon dioxide and related induced seismicity; climate change and its effect on water availability and energy production; byproducts and waste streams of energy development; energy for water treatment and delivery, and more.  To read the report, visit the USGS web site.