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News Release

NRCS and Four Groundwater Management Districts Partner through Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

Application Cutoff Date February 24, 2012

Salina, Kansas, February 7, 2012–Eric B. Banks, State Conservationists for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas, announced that irrigators in the four project areas have until February 24, 2012, to apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) at their local NRCS office. This program is available in northwest and southcentral Kansas in four designated priority areas to irrigators who are eligible to conserve water and improve water quality on agricultural working lands through AWEP. Through this program, the USDA and conservation partners work together to efficiently use additional resources and services.

“AWEP is another way that NRCS with the assistance of our partners work to protect and preserve our water resources in Kansas,” said Banks

USDA NRCS administers the program and enters into agreements with conservation partners to help landowners plan and implement conservation practices in priority areas established through the agreements.

“Four Kansas groundwater management districts (GMDs) partnered with other local agencies and organizations to submit AWEP proposals that were approved,” said Banks. The GMDs began partnering with NRCS through AWEP in fiscal year (FY) 2010. Producers in the project areas have until February 24, 2012, to apply for this program at their local NRCS office.

Project areas shown on a map at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep include the following:

  • Northwest Kansas GMD No. 4 was funded for a three-year period in FY 2010. Six designated agricultural areas are eligible to directly conserve groundwater. To address the aquifer overdraft concern, NRCS and the GMD No. 4 seek to convert irrigated to dryland cropland acres in portions of Cheyenne, Sherman, Sheridan, and Thomas Counties.
  • Equus Beds GMD No. 2 was funded for a five-year period for FY 2010. NRCS and GMD No. 2 will address inefficient water use on irrigated land and aquifer overdraft, through installation of more efficient irrigation systems and irrigation water management. The eligible area includes the entire GMD No. 2.
  • Big Bend GMD No. 5 was funded for a five-year period for FY 2010. NRCS and GMD No. 5 will address inefficient water use with financial assistance to remove end guns and convert those acres to non-irrigated. The project area is in the Rattlesnake Creek Sub-basin.
  • Southwest Kansas GMD No. 3 was funded for a five-year period for FY 2011. NRCS and the GMD 3 will address water quantity resource concerns converting irrigated cropland to dryland cropland acres and reducing irrigation water use. The eligible areas are located in parts of, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Haskell, Kearny, Meade, Morton, Seward, Stanton, and Stevens Counties. -more-

“NRCS is working with our partners to support efforts to protect and preserve our water resources in Kansas,” said Banks.

In FY 2011, the NRCS obligated over $4.4 million through 44 contracts on 5,405 acres in the AWEP project areas.

Partner proposals were selected using a competitive process that considered several factors including statutorily defined priority areas, emphasis for water conservation activities such as conversion of irrigated land to dryland farming, and assistance to farmers and ranchers to meet regulatory requirements. Approved partners enter into multi-year agreements with NRCS to promote ground and surface water conservation or improve water quality on eligible agricultural lands in the project area. Additional information about AWEP www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep.

AWEP agreements provide assistance to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). All participants must meet EQIP eligibility requirements.

In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to AWEP.

For more information about AWEP and natural resources conservation programs, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office. The office is located at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at offices.usda.gov). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov. Follow us on Twitter @NRCS_Kansas. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.