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“.


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


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


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


 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.


USDA RFA and Webinar for Conservation Innovation Grants


USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a Request for Applications (RFA) for its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. NRCS is making $10 million available through CIG this year to fund innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. The three focus areas for grant funding include grazing lands, organic systems, and soil health. Grant proposals are due February 26, 2018.

CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects can last up to three years and the maximum award amount for any project this year is $2 million. Since 2004, NRCS has invested nearly $286.7 million in more than 700 projects focused on providing farmers and ranchers new techniques, data and decision-making tools for improving natural resources conservation on their land, that can also help improve drinking water quality. All U.S. based entities and individuals are invited to apply, except for Federal agencies. Up to 20 percent of CIG funds will be set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, veteran farmers or ranchers or groups serving these customers.

Webinar for Potential Applicants

  • Date:  Thursday, January 11, 2018
  • Time:  4:00 pm (eastern).
  • Log in:  At the time of the webinar, log in HERE.

To view the announcement, application materials, and submission procedures, go to:  www.grants.gov. For more information, read the news release. For questions, contact Laura Crowell of USDA at laura.crowell@ia.usda.gov or 515-323-2207.

New EPA HABs Incident Action Checklist


EPA’s Water Security Division has published its newest Incident Action Checklist on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). This checklist provides information on preparedness and response actions water utilities can take during a HAB incident. For on-the-go convenience, the actions in the checklist are divided up into three “rip and run” sections with examples of activities for surface water utilities. Utilities can also populate the “My Contacts” sections with critical information for coordinating response actions. View and download the checklist HERE. For more information and to see the other EPA Incident Action Checklists for water utilities, visit the EPA website.

SWC Webinar on Engaging Drinking Water Utilities in USDA RCPP Funding Projects


On Thursday, January 11th, 2018, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm (eastern) the Source Water Collaborative (SWC) will host a webinar as part of its Learning Exchange Webinar Series entitled, “Conservation Grant Funding & Drinking Water Utilities: Partnering for Success.” During the webinar, participants will learn about the efforts of drinking water utilities and conservation groups to partner with farming operations and landowners to protect their water supplies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The webinar will be moderated by Adam Carpenter of AWWA and speakers will include:

  • Jimmy Bramblett, Deputy Chief of Programs, USDA NRCS
  • Tariq Baloch, Water Utility Plant Manager, Cedar Rapids. Iowa
  • Sandi Formica, Executive Director, Watershed Conservation Resource Center

Save your spot today by registering here.

Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership Signing Ceremony and Meeting Held This Week


The Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership Signing Ceremony and Meeting were held this week at EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. The Partnership was initiated in 2005 and now includes EPA and 19 partner organizations (including ASDWA) that work collaboratively at the national level to improve decentralized performance and protect the nation’s public health and water resources. During the signing ceremony, Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water and Andrew Sawyers, Director of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management provided opening remarks; and Partners introduced themselves and shared a few highlights from the 2017 Accomplishments Report. The Partnership also welcomed the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) as a new member this year. The purpose of the meeting was for members to discuss the MOU Partnership goals and begin to develop a 2017–2020 Priorities and Actions Workplan. Some of the discussed actions included:

  • Conducting a logic model exercise to determine other audiences (such as local governments and planners) for promoting decentralized systems and Septic Smart Week to achieve public health and environmental outcomes, including protecting drinking water sources.
  • Spearheading additional research opportunities for working with members of the Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), that are both members of the Partnership.
  • Connecting with state Clean Water SRF programs to consider prioritization options for funding decentralized system projects.
  • Starting a workforce development effort to create and promote educational awareness and opportunities for students.

For more information about the Decentralized Wastewater MOU Partnership and septic system resources, visit EPA’s website.