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News Release

NRCS Announces National Water Quality Initiative Applications Due March 15, 2013

 Agricultural Producers located in priority watersheds will be able to participate

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 13, 2013 — Acting State Conservationist Doris Washington announced applications are being accepted through March 15, 2013, for the National Water Quality Initiative 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,” Washington 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 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.

Two landowner meetings are being held Feb. 27. The first is at 10 a.m. at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in the S.J. Parker Extension Complex.  The second is at 1 p.m. at the C&L Electric Co., 900 Church Street in Star City.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year.  Remember to check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed.  All applications for funding consideration, during this fiscal year, must be received by March 15, 2013.  This summer, NRCS will notify all applicants of the results and begin developing contracts with selected applicants.