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News Release

NRCS Announces National Water Quality Initiative Applications Due April 18, 2014

Agricultural producers in three Arkansas priority watersheds eligible

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., March 12, 2014 — State Conservationist Mike Sullivan announced applications are being accepted through April 18, 2014, for the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) in three Arkansas watersheds in portions of Jefferson and Lincoln counties.

Eligible producers in Cousart Bayou-Little Cypress Bayou, Upper Deep Bayou and Lower Deep Bayou watersheds will invest in voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities.  The selected watersheds were identified with help from the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC), Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD), University of Arkansas and other partners.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manages the initiative by making funds available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds.

“NRCS is committed to improving impaired watersheds located within the Bayou Bartholomew watershed in Arkansas,” Sullivan said.  “The Water Quality Initiative will further NRCS’ partnership efforts to improve water quality using voluntary actions on private lands.”

Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, NRCS will provide technical and financial assistance to producers to install conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips, nutrient management, irrigation water management, land leveling and tailwater recovery systems in watersheds with impairments where the federal investment can make a difference to improve water quality.

Arkansas’s three watersheds were selected based on the high amount of sediment and total phosphorus concentration that flow into tributaries of the Bayou Bartholomew watershed.  Deep Bayou and Jacks Bayou, which flow through the watersheds, have been identified as impaired waterways because of excessive levels of siltation primarily from agricultural practices.  The three watershed total 62,473 acres in parts of Jefferson and Lincoln counties.

  • Cousart Bayou-Little Cypress Bayou – This 23,763 acre watershed has 27 miles of streams and 51 miles of canals and ditches.  The watershed has mixed land uses of crops (74.8 percent), forest (12 percent), grass (9.4 percent) and urban (2.3 percent).  Based on results from the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), Cousart Bayou is listed by ANRC as high priority based on sediment and total phosphorus concentration.
  • Upper Deep Bayou – This 16,593 acre watershed has 33 miles of streams and 3 miles of canals and ditches.  The watershed has mixed land uses of crops (46.1 percent), forest (30.4 percent), grass (17.4 percent) and urban (3.2 percent).  Based on SWAT results, the watershed is listed by ANRC as high priority based on total phosphorus concentration.
  • Lower Deep Bayou – This 17,177 acre watershed has 23 miles of streams and 42 miles of canals and ditches.  The watershed has mixed land uses of crops (68.7 percent), forest (16 percent), grass (13.4 percent) and urban (1.2 percent).  Based on SWAT results, the watershed is listed by ANRC as high priority based on total phosphorus concentration.

A meeting discussing the initiative and the many conservation practices available to help landowners reduce sediment loading into the watershed is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 25 at the C&L Electric Company, 900 Church Street, in Star City.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance through the NWQI on a continuous basis throughout the year.  Check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed.  The eligibility deadline is May 5 and ranking deadline is May 16.  The obligation deadline is June 6.

For more information on the NWQI and a map of the initiative area visit www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov or your local USDA service center.