NRCS Announces 2014 Water Quality Initiative in South Jersey Watersheds
Barbara L. Phillips
February 18, 2013 - USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering technical and financial assistance to farmers in the Upper Cohansey River, Upper Salem River and Upper Alloway Creek Watersheds in Salem and Cumberland Counties through the 2014 National Water Quality Initiative. “This is the third year NRCS has been able to offer this opportunity and support the effort to improve water quality in this area of New Jersey,” State Conservationist Carrie Mosley said. These three watersheds have documented phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment impairments, which may be caused by soil erosion, exposed soil, and lack of riparian buffers and filter strips. Reducing agricultural runoff by implementing conservation practices on agricultural lands can help reduce phosphorus, bacteria, and sediment inputs.
NRCS designed the national Initiative for watersheds with known water quality issues and a high percent of agricultural land. Local watershed groups and state and federal agencies assisted NRCS in determining the NWQI focus area in New Jersey. The Upper Cohansey watershed has 68% of its land area in agriculture, the Upper Salem is 65% agriculture, and the Upper Alloway Creek has 41% of its land area in agriculture. “By focusing our conservation efforts with agricultural operators in these priority watersheds, we believe we help them have a positive impact on the water quality in that region,” Mosley said.
Applications received by March 21, 2014, will be considered for funding this year. Farmers from the designated watersheds who are eligible for NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program can apply for assistance to install conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces. Application for the program can be made at the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Woodstown (51 Cheney Road, Suite 2, Woodstown, NJ 08098, ph: 856-769-1126 ext. 3) or in Vineland (Building 5, Suite A, 1318 South Main Road, Vineland NJ 08360 ph: 856-205-1225). Information about the program is available online at http://www.nj.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/NWQI.html.