NRCS Provides $1 M to Help PA Ag Producers Improve Water Quality
(Harrisburg, PA, May 23, 2014) USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide $1 million in assistance to Pennsylvania’s farmers in three priority watersheds who make improvements to their land to improve water quality.
Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills recently announced this year’s funding for the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). Now in its third year, the initiative continues to build on efforts to target high-impact conservation in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes.
NWQI helps farmers and forest landowners reduce the runoff of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural land that can flow into waterways by implementing conservation and management practices.
“This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary, private lands conservation investments to improve water quality and to focus water quality monitoring and assessment funds where they are most needed,” Denise Coleman, NRCS State Conservationist said. “When hundreds of farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a difference — it can stop an algae bloom downstream or keep bacteria from reaching a drinking water source.”
With the help of partners at the local, state and national level, NRCS identified three priority watersheds in Pennsylvania where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality benefits. Eligible watersheds include the Upper Kishacoquillas Creek in Mifflin County, the Upper Maiden Creek in Berks and Lehigh Counties and Sacony (also spelled “Saucony”) Creek in Berks County.
Eligible landowners will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that help avoid, trap and control run-off in these hig-+h-priority watersheds. These practices may include nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.
Through several different processes, NRCS and partners are measuring the effects of conservation practices on water quality. Edge-of-field monitoringand an NRCS tool, Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff, help landowners assess the impact of conservation practices on water flowing off their land.
NRCS helped farmers install monitoring stations to test the quality of water flowing off their fields, which will help measure the effectiveness of conservation systems.
NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year. Check with your local NRCS office or website to see if you are located in a selected watershed.