USDA Announces $10.7 Million for Critical Water Research Grants

USDA has announced the availability of $10.7 million in funding for research that could solve critical water problems in rural and agricultural watersheds across the United States. This funding is available through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Agriculture Challenge Area for universities, non-profits, and others to conduct projects that tackle critical water issues by developing both regional systems for the sustainable use and reuse, flow and management of water, and that address water issues focused on production and environmental sustainability efforts at the watershed and farm scale. There is also a focus on solutions for conserving higher quality water and understanding human behavior and its influence on decision making for agricultural water use in the Fiscal Year 2016 projects.

To date, more than $20.5 million in research, education and extension grants have been awarded through AFRI’s Water for Agriculture Challenge Area. Examples of previously funded projects include a grant for the University of Nevada-Reno’s Coordinated Agricultural Project to assess the impacts of climate change on future water supplies and enhance the climate resiliency of tribal agriculture; and a grant for Clemson University to integrate remote sensing products and weather forecast information for farmers and growers to address the best products, increase agricultural drought indices, and develop an agricultural drought forecasting model to provide near real-time feedback.

For more information, view the press release and visit the web site.

NOAA’s New 4-D Global Forecast System Upgrade

NOAA has made another upgrade to the US Global Forecast System (GFS) using new supercomputers.  While last year’s upgrade more than doubled the resolution for more precise weather forecasts and warnings, this upgrade uses a new fourth (4-D) time dimension to predict how weather systems evolve on a 3-D spatial grid over time.  It also increases hourly forecasting time intervals and future forecasting out to 16 days. These enhanced features will help decision-makers (including states and water utilities), emergency managers, and others better prepare for storm events.  In addition, this upgrade will allow the GFS to make use of new satellites expected to launch later this year, that together can provide images of weather patterns and severe storms as frequently as every 30 seconds.  For more information, visit the web site or contact Maureen O’Leary of NOAA at maureen.oleary@noaa.gov or 301-427-9000.

World Bank Report on Climate, Water, and the Economy

The World Bank has released a new report entitled, “High and Dry:  Climate Change, Water, and the Economy.”  The report shares key findings and recommendations for water management policies and investments across the globe to address negative climate impacts on water and the economy.  Some of the report findings include:

  • Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), spur migration, and spark conflict.
  • The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain.
  • Improved water stewardship pays high economic dividends. When governments respond to water shortages by boosting efficiency and allocating even 25 percent of water to more highly-valued uses, such as more efficient agricultural practices, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish.
  • Policies and investments that can help lead countries to more water secure and climate-resilient economies include:
    • Better planning for water resource allocation
    • Adoption of incentives to increase water efficiency, and
    • Investments in infrastructure for more secure water supplies and availability.

Visit the web site for more information and to read the press release, download the report, and view the related video.

EPA Report on Stormwater and Climate Lessons from Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes

EPA published a Federal Register Notice today announcing the availability of a report entitled, “Stormwater Management in Response to Climate Change Impacts: Lessons from the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes Regions.” The report was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment within EPA’s Office of Research and Development and provides insights from a series of EPA and NOAA sponsored workshops and adaptation planning experiences in Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes region communities.  These include locally identified barriers to addressing climate change, methods to overcome barriers in the short term, and long term information needs to further assist their stormwater adaptation efforts.  While the report does not specifically mention drinking water, climate change impacts and stormwater management can directly coincide with and affect drinking water supplies.  To view the document, visit EPA’s web site.

Iowa Declares Source Water Protection Week

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad declared this week (May 1-7) as “Source Water Protection Week,” to celebrate and create awareness of ongoing source water protection partnerships in Iowa.  This week was declared by the Governor in conjunction with National Drinking Water Week that was held nationwide.  In the announcement, information is provided about how “Iowa communities are creating source water protection plans, which helps guard the water source – whether an aquifer, lake or river – that they draw their drinking water from.”  The web page and announcement also share information about 15 source water protection pilot projects, the Iowa Source Water Agricultural Collaborative that initiated the creation of this first Source Water Protection Week, and success stories from Griswold and other communities throughout the state.  For more information, visit the Iowa Source Water Protection Program web site and download the Source Water Protection Week in Iowa Proclamation.  For more information, contact Rebecca Ohrtman of Iowa at Rebecca.Ohrtman@dnr.iowa.gov.

US Water Alliance Publishes “One Water Spotlight: Iowa”

The US Water Alliance has published a document entitled, “One Water Spotlight: Iowa” that highlights the state’s partnership and collaboration efforts between urban and agriculture stakeholders using a watershed approach.  The document includes examples of these efforts in the Middle Cedar River and Catfish Creek Watersheds, as part of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy to improve the health and sustainability of the state’s watersheds (and drinking water sources), and the water that flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

Farm and Dairy Article on Water Quality Training for Ohio Farmers

Farm and Dairy has published an article entitled More than 10,000 Ohio farmers have received water quality trainingThe article highlights water quality training efforts for Ohio Farmers through the Ohio State University Extension as part of the Fertilizer Applicator Certification Training (FACT) program.  FACT allows farmers and commercial fertilizer applicators to meet the educational requirements of Ohio’s new agricultural fertilization law.  The law was passed in 2014 and requires individuals who apply fertilizer to more than 50 acres to become certified by September 30, 2017.  To date, more than 10,000 farmers have participated in the training, and the goal is to reach approximately 25,000.  The training includes best practices for farmers to apply fertilizer for optimum crop yield, reduce the risk of nutrient runoff, and improve water quality (and drinking water sources) throughout the state; and provides information on the link between phosphorus, harmful algal blooms, and agriculture, as well as soil testing for confidence and adaptive management.