ACWA Releases First State Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker Report

cropped-ACWA-logo-final-Four46F75E

The Association of State Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) has released its Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker 1.0. The report summarizes the survey data received from state clean water programs in the fall of 2017 on state progress to reduce nutrient loads beyond the adoption of numeric nutrient criteria for lakes, estuaries, and flowing waters. This is the first in what will be a series of Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracker reports and includes responses from 31 states on state strategies, monitoring, assessment, non-point sources, point sources, and drinking water.

The ACWA Nutrients Working Group (NWG) that developed the Tracker is a partnership between ACWA, EPA, and ASDWA and currently includes two drinking water questions about the number of public water systems (PWSs) in violation of the Nitrate MCL and the estimated number and percent of PWSs operating to meet the Nitrate MCL. ASDWA is providing input on additional drinking water questions for next year’s Tracker survey that would help further explain the impacts of nutrient pollution on PWSs, both in terms of cost avoidance and additional costs for treatment, beyond conventional treatment. To view the report and to learn more about this effort, go here.

Advertisements

ASDWA Session Held this Week at the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference

The AWWA Sustainable Water Management (SWM) Conference was held this week in Seattle where ASDWA co-sponsored a technical session entitled “Harness the Power of the Clean Water Act to Protect Sources of Drinking Water.” Approximately 400 people attended the meeting from across the US including representatives from water utilities, associations, federal agencies, consulting firms, and four state drinking water programs. Other sessions at the conference focused on the sustainability of water supplies, water utility climate change adaptation, source water protection, pay for performance best practices for forest preservation and wildfire prevention, land use and water integrated planning, and more.

The ASDWA session speakers included:  Michelle Tucker from EPA Region 10 who provided an overview of how the Clean Water Act (CWA) can protect sources of drinking water; Sheree Stewart from the Oregon Source Water Protection (SWP) Program who spoke about how the state is using GIS to address point and nonpoint sources of pollution and emerging contaminants at the source; Corina Hayes from the Washington SWP Program who shared information about state efforts to use Drinking Water SRF funds to help communities develop SWP plans; David Dunn from the Washington Department of Ecology who spoke about how to leverage different CWA funding mechanisms (including the CWSRF) for SWP in Washington State; Bill Trueman from the Skagit Public Utility District (PUD) who shared how they used CWSRF funding to purchase land to protect their drinking water source; Deirdre Mason from ASDWA who spoke about ASDWA, state, and EPA CWA and Safe Drinking Water Act (CWA-SDWA) coordination efforts to address regulated and emerging ; and Bo Williams from EPA Headquarters who spoke about the National Source Water Collaborative’s CWA-SDWA infographic for water utilities and local stakeholders to provide input into state CWA provisions and permitting efforts. To learn more about these efforts, check out:

For more information about the AWWA SWM conference, visit the AWWA website.

Two USDA NRCS Funding Opportunities Available for Easement Restoration and State Conservation Innovation Grants

USDA-Logo

Easement Restoration Funding:  NRCS is requesting proposals from qualified individuals and organizations to complete restoration work on eligible degraded wetland, floodplain and forestland properties. Up to $250 million is available for these restoration projects in all 50 states and territories. Restoration activities may include: designing restoration plans, installing conservation practices including structural and vegetative, construction management and inspection. Agreements will be three years in length. Potential applicants should review the funding opportunity, USDA-NRCS-US-WRP-ACEP- EWPP-HFRP-18-01, at https://www.grants.gov/, which includes application materials and submission procedures. Applications are due by May 18, 2018. For more information on wetland, floodplain and forestland easements, visit the NRCS easements page. See the full announcement here USDA-NRCS-US-WRP-ACEP-EWPP-HFRP-18-01.

State Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG):  The NRCS CIG offers both national and state grant competitions. The national competition closed in late February but in 2018, twenty states are offering CIG funding opportunities and many state competitions are still open. These state CIG competitions target small projects (maximum award size is $75,000) that address natural resource concerns (including drinking water quality) at a local or state level. The following states and territories currently have opportunities posted on Grants.gov LAORMDMIMOVAAZMECAIDKSSDPAGANMRINYIAOK, the Pacific Island Area and the Caribbean Area. For more information on any of these competitions, please contact the relevant NRCS state office.

 

EPA Fact Sheet on Funding Agricultural BMPs with CWSRF

EPA CWSRF Fact Sheet

EPA has published a fact sheet on how the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) can be used for agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to protect water quality, including drinking water sources. The fact sheet shares information about the types of projects that can be funded, along with state examples highlighting the Maryland and Virginia Farm Credit Banks that can provide financing to farmers for the entire cost of a project and can be partially repaid by a USDA grant; and the Minnesota Ag BMP Loan Program that has used CWSRF funds for over 13,000 projects by leveraging funding from the state and other sources. State drinking water programs are encouraged to reach out to their Clean Water Act program partners to discuss CWSRF funding options like this (if you haven’t already) that may be used to implement BMPs in sensitive source water protection areas. View the fact sheet here.  For more information about other uses of the CWSRF, you may also want to read through EPA’s document entitled “Financing Options for Nontraditional Eligibilities in the CWSRF Programs“.

Register Now for AWWA’s Sustainable Water Management Conference

unnamed

AWWA’s Sustainable Water Management Conference is being held on March 25-28, 2018 in Seattle and ASDWA is co-sponsoring a technical session this year on Sunday, March 25th entitled “Harness the Power of the Clean Water Act to Protect Sources of Drinking Water.” The session will feature national, state, and local leaders who will speak about their efforts to leverage regulatory programs and funding mechanisms of the Clean Water Act to protect sources of drinking water and using the Safe Drinking Water Act to advance watershed goals.

The conference brings together water sector organizations and professionals to discuss critical matters related to resilient and efficient water management. Attendees will gain insights into best practices for managing water resources, source water protection, sustainable utility planning, analyzing the costs and benefits of water conservation and exploring alternative water sources including stormwater and reuse. The early registration deadline is February 23rd. For more information and to view the program and register for the conference, visit the AWWA website.

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.

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.

New SWC Learning Exchange: Source Water Protection through Conservation Funding

SWC_banner_LE-ConservationFundingV2

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

awwa-farm-bill-video.png

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.

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.