Stay Tuned for New USDA NWQI Drinking Water Protection Pilot Opportunity

nrcs_logo_largerASDWA has learned that the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and EPA are making a change to the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) this year (for FY 2019) that includes a new pilot program specifically aimed at protecting drinking water supplies, including groundwater. The NWQI was launched in 2012 to reduce nonpoint sources of nutrients, sediment, and pathogens related to agriculture in small high-priority watersheds in each state. NWQI provides a way to accelerate voluntary, on-farm conservation investments and focused water quality monitoring and assessment resources where they can deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.  NRCS recently announced that it is updating and expanding NWQI for FY 2019 and has committed to funding the NWQI through 2023. While many of the fundamental components of the NWQI will remain in place for FY19, there are some notable changes in the FY19 NWQI bulletin and thinking ahead for NWQI in FY20.  In addition to continuing the current NWQI focus on addressing water bodies impaired under the Clean Water Act, NWQI will now include a component to protect surface and groundwater sources of drinking water.

This is a great new opportunity for state drinking water and source water protection programs that will be coordinated with NRCS State Conservationists to collaborate on proposing SWP areas and specific projects for the pilot. NRCS and EPA’s source water protection staff in cooperation with ACWA and ASDWA are working to develop guidance and resources for NRCS staff and state drinking water agencies to get the pilot underway.  An informational webinar is being planned and a date will be announced in the coming week.  Stay tuned for more information that will be coming soon!

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