USDA Releases 2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles

USDA farm bill principles

On January 24th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new 2018 Farm Bill and Legislative Principles document. The principles in the document are categorized into a variety of topics to serve as a roadmap for Congress to understand and address the needs of agricultural and forest landowners in the next Farm Bill. Some of the principles in the document that can support drinking water protection include:

  • Ensure that voluntary conservation programs balance farm productivity with conservation benefits…
  • Support conservation programs that ensure cost-effective financial assistance for improved soil health, water and air quality and other natural resource benefits.
  • Expand Good Neighbor Authority and increase coordination with states to promote job creation and improve forest health through shared stewardship and stakeholder input.
  • Offer the tools and resources that incentivize private stewardship and retention of forest land.

For more information, visit USDA’s website to read the press release and view the principles document.

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Plan Now for National Groundwater Awareness and Fix-a-Leak Weeks in March

National Groundwater Awareness Week is taking place on March 11-17, and EPA’s WaterSense Fix-a-Leak is taking place the following week on March 19-25, 2018.

National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 11-17

ngwa awareness weekPlan now to promote public awareness about groundwater during this year’s National Groundwater Awareness Week. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) invites you to join them in this effort by spreading the word through your website, timely newsletter publications, social media, or other education and outreach activities. This year’s theme of “Tend, Test, Treat,” includes an associated video for private well owners, a press release template, and other useful information and materials. State drinking water programs and health departments can use these tools to reach private well owners and the general public, and also pass this information along to your water utilities to share with their customers. For more information, to download the materials, and to become a groundwater advocate, visit NGWA’s website at Ground Water Awareness Week and Wellowner.org.

Fix-a-Leak Week is March 19-25

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EPA’s WaterSense program and its partners (including ASDWA and many states) will raise awareness about the importance of eliminating household leaks during the 10th Annual Fix-a-Leak Week. ASDWA encourages states to promote this week with your water systems and communities by sharing information through newsletters and social media, and hosting community events that highlight the water-saving benefits of fixing household leaks. Help them get started to chase down leaks and reduce water waste with a few simple tips, along with educational resources and a video you can find on the WaterSense website.

One Water Agriculture-Utility Partnerships Webinar

medium_resources_bigidea_2On Wednesday, January 31st from 1:00 – 2:00 pm (eastern), the US Water Alliance will hold its next webinar entitled, “Accelerate Agriculture-Utility Partnerships to Improve Water Quality,” as part of its One Water for America Policy Framework webinar series on their Seven Big Ideas. Speakers will include partners from the Tualatin and Middle Cedar Watersheds. Register for the webinar here.

AWRA Seeks Abstracts for Summer Conference on Governance of Transboundary Groundwater

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The American Water Resources Association (AWRA) is seeking abstracts for presentations, topical sessions, and workshops at its Summer Conference on the Science, Management, and Governance of Transboundary Groundwater that will be held July 9-11, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. The program will stimulate conversations on innovative approaches for identifying transboundary groundwater resources and the methods to develop sustainable governance and management agreements. For more information and deadlines for submission, visit the AWRA website.

EPA and USGS Surface Water Toolbox Webcast

epa-watershed-academyOn February 8, 2018 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm (eastern time), EPA’s Watershed Academy will host a webinar on the newly developed Surface Water Toolbox created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and EPA. The Surface Water Toolbox is a user-friendly, downloadable tool for water managers to estimate a wide variety of streamflow statistics. Register for the webinar here. For more information about the Watershed Academy and to view previous webinars, visit EPA’s website.

Pisces Foundation Funding Opportunity – Due by January 29

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The Pisces Foundation has announced a new funding opportunity as part of its urban water strategy. Pisces will award a total of $500,00 to $600,000 in 2018 for up to $125,000 per grant to motivated organizations within communities serving populations of at least 200,000 people who want to undertake a new smart water (One Water) approach to water management. A smart water approach integrates water management and other disciplines, focuses on long-term sustainability, provides multiple benefits to multiple users, supports community access and revitalization, and can be more cost-effective than more narrowly focused efforts to protect water quality or water supply alone.

The deadline is January 29, 2018, and grants will be awarded in June 2018. For more information, view the RFP here.

New SWC Learning Exchange: Source Water Protection through Conservation Funding

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The Source Water Collaborative is pleased to announce its latest Learning Exchange, “Source Water Protection through Conservation Funding.” This new module features stories from drinking water industry and conservation leaders who have capitalized on resources provided through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to target source water protection through voluntary local conservation partnerships.

  • Visit the Learning Exchange web page to find case studies and information resources aimed at supporting groups considering submitting an RCPP application, including examples of successful proposals, links to application guides, an interactive map with details of RCPP-supported source water protection partnerships.
  • Register for the January 11 webinar that will be held from 1:30 to 3:00 pm (eastern) entitled, ‘Conservation Funding & Drinking Water Utilities: Partnering for Success,” featuring Jimmy Bramblett, the USDA NRCS’ Deputy Chief of Programs, and a presentation from Iowa’s Middle Cedar Rapids Partnership.

We look forward to your participation in this Learning Exchange. Please reach out to info@sourcewatercollaborative.org if you have additional resources, stories, or examples to share or if you would like to receive emails from the Collaborative about upcoming events and news.

New AWWA Video on How Farm Bill Conservation Funding Can Protect Drinking Water

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The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has released a new whiteboard video on how USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding can help better protect drinking water sources in the next reauthorization of the Farm Bill. The video explains how farm runoff can carry nutrients, pesticides, and sediment, and cause harmful algal blooms in drinking water supplies, and highlights the benefits of collaboration and cooperation between water utilities and farmers for implementing innovative farm practices. AWWA is asking Congress to provide robust funding the Farm Bill conservation title and to consider designating 10% of these funds for targeted measures that would improve downstream drinking water quality. While ASDWA believes this is a laudable goal, it remains to be seen when and how the Farm Bill will be reauthorized, and whether this component will be included in the final legislation.

Bureau of Reclamation Funding for WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management in Western States

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The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) announced its 2018 funding opportunity for Phase I of the WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program. This funding opportunity seeks proposals for activities to develop a watershed group, complete watershed restoration planning activities, and to design watershed management projects. In contrast, Phase II of this program focuses on the implementation of watershed management projects, though it is not included in this funding opportunity at this time. The goal of the whole program (for Phase I and II) is to promote the sustainable use of water resources and improve the ecological resilience of rivers and streams using collaborative conservation efforts.

Proposals are due by Wednesday, January 31, 2018, at 4:00 pm (mountain time). States, tribes, local and special districts (e.g., irrigation and water districts), local governmental entities, interstate organizations, and non-profit organizations, including existing watershed groups, within the 17 western states are eligible to apply. To view this funding opportunity, go to:  www.grants.gov. To learn more about the WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Phase I grants for FY 2018, go to:  www.usbr.gov/watersmart/cwmp.

USDA NWQI Adds 30 New Watersheds and $30 Million to Improve Water Quality in 2018

NRCS NWQI

 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest more than $30 million this year in 201 high-priority watersheds across the country through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). This includes 30 new watersheds where targeted assistance will help farmers and ranchers implement conservation practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces and buffers to improve water (and drinking water) quality. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds this assistance, and in some cases, is leveraged by funds from local and state partners. State drinking water programs should coordinate with their state clean water program and their USDA NRCS state conservationist and technical committee to include drinking water priorities in these watersheds and projects. Visit the NWQI website for more information and to see the list of watersheds.