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.

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.

Hypoxia Task Force 2017 Report to Congress Highlights Nutrient Reduction Progress

hypoxiaThe Hypoxia Task Force has released its 2017 Report to Congress on the actions the federal, state, and tribal members have taken toward the goal of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) and shrinking the size of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. This is the second biennial Report to Congress, after the first one in 2015. It was developed and released in accordance with the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments (HABHRCA) Act of 2014. The Reports to Congress describe the progress made through activities directed by the Hypoxia Task Force toward attainment of the goals of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008 to:

  • Target vulnerable lands and quantify nutrient load reductions achieved through federal programs, subject to future appropriations.
  • Implement state nutrient reduction strategies, including targeting vulnerable lands and quantifying nutrient reductions.
  • Expand and build new partnerships and alliances with universities, the agricultural community, cities, and others.
  • Track progress towards the interim target and long-term goal, with intent to understand whether the current actions are appropriate to meet the goal.

The report does include basic information about nutrient impacts on drinking water sources and treatment, as well as specific challenges and actions the MARB affiliated states are taking to address them. To view the report and learn more about the Hypoxia Task Force, visit EPA’s website.

Source Water Collaborative Holds Meeting and Publishes 2016 Accomplishments Report

The National Source Water Collaborative (SWC), for which ASDWA serves as a co-chair with GWPC, held a meeting this week and published its 2016 Accomplishments Report.

SWC Meeting and Field Trip

SWC 11-1-17 MeetingSWC Field Trip 11-1-17

The SWC held a meeting and went on a field trip this week in Washington, DC. Participants at the meeting included 35 representatives of the Collaborative’s 27 members and guests. The meeting served to reflect on the accomplishments of the SWC to date and jumpstart a variety of ideas and activities for the members to undertake in 2018. Some of the ideas coming from the discussions included activities related to  innovative funding sources, the upcoming Farm Bill, support for local collaboratives, and outreach to non-traditional partners. The field trip to Arcadia Farm after the meeting also provided a great learning opportunity for some of the participants to learn about the farm’s sustainable farming practices; educational opportunities for school children; training programs for veterans; and mobile market for providing fresh organic produce to disadvantaged communities.

SWC 2016 Accomplishments Report

SWC 2016 Accomps Cover

The SWC’s 2016 Accomplishments Report explores just a sampling of the various individual and collaborative efforts from the past year and celebrates 10 years of achievement. The SWC started in 2006 with fourteen national organizations, concerned about the implications of shifting landscapes and quickly expanding developments on the safety and sustainability of drinking water supplies. Those 14 members knew that they were faced with a challenge and an opportunity, and by acting together now, they could protect sources of drinking water for generations to come. Over the past ten years, the SWC has experienced tremendous growth and progress—the original 14 members has nearly doubled and is now 27 strong, after welcoming the newest member, American Rivers. The one-stop-shop website boasts a compendium of valuable resources and targeted toolkits, products of member collaborations, while the Twitter feed (@sourcewatercol) has quickly become the place for source water protection news, updates, and member accomplishments. In 2016 the SWC launched the popular Learning Exchange webinars and resources, and participation at high-profile national conferences have greatly expanded its reach and impact.

While the last ten years have been marked by change, the core principle that the SWC was founded on remains— that by working together and combining our strengths, resources, and will to action, this diverse set of member organizations would be able to realize far greater successes than by working alone. This principle still provides the foundation of the Collaborative’s approach and success today. To read the Accomplishments Report, visit the SWC website. We also encourage you to sign up for the email distribution list or follow the SWC on twitter for the latest in source water protection news & events.

Webinar on Addressing Nutrient Pollution in our Nation’s Waters


On Friday, November 3rd from 1:00pm – 2:30pm (eastern), the US Water Alliance, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, and the Water Environment Federation will host a webinar to discuss their new policy brief entitled, Addressing Nutrient Pollution in Our Nation’s Waters: The Role of a Statewide Utility.  The paper presents options for a collaborative approach with agriculture, utilities, businesses, environmental groups, government, and academia that focuses on cost-effective, results-driven investments and projects for reducing nutrient pollution. For more information and to register, go HERE.

Organizations are Gearing Up for the 2018 Farm Bill


It’s that time again to get ready for the reauthorization of the next Farm Bill in 2018. ASDWA is engaging in discussions with a variety of partner organizations as well as the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), to help emphasize the connections to drinking water quality and protection in the Farm Bill’s conservation title. Here is what some of them are doing with regard to their Farm Bill priorities.

AWWA:  The American Water Works Association (AWWA) issued a press release emphasizing the opportunity to encourage partnerships in the Farm Bill. This includes working with water utilities and all stakeholders interested in productive farming practices and safe water to form innovative collaborations that can achieve mutual goals. The AWWA press release notes that they would like to see Congress make an explicit connection between conservation measures and drinking water quality in the Farm Bill’s conservation title. AWWA wants to see that change by:

  • Providing strong funding for conservation programs.
  • Adding a specific goal of protecting sources of drinking water as a priority for all Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS) conservation programs.
  • Encouraging NRCS state conservationists, state technical committees, and working groups to work with water utilities in identifying priority areas in each state.
  • Increasing the NRCS cost-share for measures that provide considerable downstream water quality benefits.
  • Dedicating ten percent of conservation funding to protecting sources of drinking water through existing programs.

Visit AWWA’s web site to view the full press release.

NASDA:  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) established priorities for the next Farm Bill that call for enhanced investment in American agriculture that provides producers the tools they need to succeed. NASDA also emphasized that the Farm Bill is vital to providing consumers access to the safest, highest quality and most affordable food supply, which is essential for our nation’s economy and security. Some of NASDA’s priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill include trade promotion; voluntary conservation programs; specialty crop block grants; research, education and economics; and food safety. While the NASDA press release does not specifically mention water, the NASDA staff have expressed their support for conservation measures that protect water quality, and are planning to have further discussions with ASDWA and ACWA as efforts move forward on the Farm Bill.

FIFBC:  The Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition (FIFBC) released its 2018 Farm Bill recommendations that focus on the need to continue to support rural communities, rural jobs, private forest owners, and the economic and environmental benefits forests provide. The National Association of Conservation Districts, the Nature Conservancy, and the Trust for Public Land are among the 42 members of the Coalition that represents forest owners, conservationists, hunters, anglers, forest industry, and natural resource professionals. Three of the five priorities outlined by the Coalition that are particularly relevant to water and drinking water include:

  • Increasing the long-term protection and conservation of forest resources from threats such as wildfire, insects and diseases, and promote the use of fire as an important forest management tool.
  • Encouraging the retention and perpetuation of forestland and associated values, goods, and services.
  • Streamlining and otherwise improving forest and conservation programs to better enable use by private landowners and land managers to address the above issues.

The FIFBC press release about the Farm Bill acknowledges clean water among the benefits that the nation’s forests provide, though it is not specifically mentioned in the priorities for the Farm Bill.