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National Water Quality Initiative in Alabama

Alabama Water Quality Incentive Watersheds (Click for larger map)The National Water Quality Initiative will work in priority watersheds to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners improve water quality and aquatic habitats in impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practices through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces.

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    Water Quality Initiative Fact Sheet

Alabama Priority Watersheds  

  • Guntersville Lake - Upper Scarham Creek:  060300010803 (DeKalb County) is located in the larger Short-Scarham Creek watershed in DeKalb County.  Upper Scarham Creek has 31,222 acres within the watershed, with approximately 25,000 acres listed as agricultural land. Poultry operations (broiler and breeder hens) and beef cattle operations are located within the watershed.  Approximately 75 percent of the agricultural land within the watershed is listed as moderately-high runoff acres.  A total maximum daily load has been developed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for Scarham Creek.
     

  • Upper Choctawhatchee - Cox Mill Creek and Hurricane Creek:  031402011004 (Geneva County) watershed is located within the larger Choctawhatchee watershed and lies solely within Geneva County in southeastern Alabama. The Cox Mill Creek-Hurricane Creek watershed has just over 15,700 acres within the watershed, with roughly 12,500 acres as agricultural land. Approximately 75 percent of the agricultural land within the watershed boundaries is categorized as "high to potentially highly erodible land."  Cox Mill Creek-Hurricane Creek Watershed currently has one water body listed on the ADEM 303(d) impaired water body list due to organic enrichment.
     

  • Turkey Creek – Luxapallila Creek: 031601050103  (Fayette County) watershed is located within the larger Luxapallila watershed in northwest Fayette County.  The Luxapallila watershed has over 20,000 acres with about 7,000 acres of agricultural land.  Approximately 35 percent of the agricultural land within the watershed would be considered as “highly erodible land.”  Portions of Luxapallila Creek are also listed on the ADEM 303d list of impaired streams.
     

  • Upper Black Warrior - Binion Creek:  031601120410 (Tuscaloosa County) watershed is located within the North River watershed with portion of North River on the 303(d) list of impaired streams.  Binion Creek is located  in northwest Tuscaloosa County with approximately 41,500 acres within the watershed.  Approximately 75 percent of the watershed is in timber production,  with 20 percent in agricultural production with poultry operations, cropland, pasture and or hayland production. There has been emphasis placed on water quality with reducing sediment load as well as maintaining consistent temperatures for fish and wildlife within Binion Creek.

Conservation Funding and Practices

NRCS conservation professionals will provide technical assistance and planning tools to determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on your land. Nutrient management systems, erosion control, conservation tillage, pest management, and buffers systems are just some of the practices being offered as part of the National Water Quality Initiative. To help install these conservation practices, financial assistance to share in the cost of these conservation practices is available though the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

A set of core conservation practices as the most important practices for avoiding, controlling, or trapping sediment and nutrients before they reach water bodies are listed below.  Applications must contain a core practice to meet the medium or high categories in addition to other criteria outlined in the screening tool.  Core practices are listed below.

Code Practice Name Code Practice Name
472 Access Control 449 Irrigation Water Management
328 Conservation Crop Rotation 590 Nutrient Management
332 Contour Buffer Strips 528 Prescribed Grazing
340 Cover Crop 345 Residue and Tillage Mgmt, Mulch Till
342 Critical Area Planting 329 Residue and Tillage Mgmt, No-Till
386 Field Border 391 Riparian Forest Buffer
393 Filter Strip 600 Terrace
410 Grade Stabilization Structure 612 Tree and Shrub Establishment
412 Grassed Waterway 638 Water and Sediment Control Basin
561 Heavy Use Area Protection    

Partnerships

NRCS identified priority watersheds through the help of local partnerships and state water quality agencies. Partners sometimes offer financial assistance in addition to NRCS programs. NRCS will continue to coordinate with local and state agencies, conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations and others to implement this initiative. This strategic approach will leverage funds and provide streamlined assistance to help individual agricultural producers take needed actions to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other runoff into impaired waterways.

Producer Benefits 

Water quality conservation practices benefit agricultural producers by lowering input costs and enhancing the productivity of working lands. Conservation investments are good for all Americans because well managed farms limit pollution from runoff, produce food and fiber, sustain rural economies, and provide food security to the Nation. All across the country—farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are voluntarily taking action and putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality on millions of acres!

Public Benefits

NRCS is proud to be involved in a nationwide effort with landowners and communities to improve and protect our water resources. The landowners and farmers participating in the initiative will receive conservation payments to work on the land in a sustainable way which provides cleaner water. In addition to the financial assistance, the land will remain productive into the future. Communities benefit by having clean waterways, safer drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.

How to Apply

Check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed.  Locate your local Service Center for further guidelines, details of the program, and to signup.  

You will need to establish eligibility and farm records for your land.  NRCS will help you complete an application while explaining which conservation practices are available in your watershed.

Additional Information

Documents may require Adobe Reader.

Water Quality Initiative Fact Sheet (.pdf, 328 kb)  

Alabama NRCS State Office Contacts

  • Steve Musser, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs (334-887-4503)
  • Shannon Weaver, Assistant State Conservationist for Technology (334-887-4533)