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News Release

NRCS Announces National Water Quality Initiative in South Carolina


Amy Overstreet, Outreach Coordinator
(803) 765-5402

NRCS Improves Four Impaired Watersheds in South Carolina
Agricultural producers in four SC priority watersheds should submit applications by June 21st

COLUMBIA, SC, May 1, 2013 — State Conservationist Ann English announced the launch of the second year of the National Water Quality Initiative committed to improving four impaired waterways in South Carolina.

Through this effort, eligible producers in Aiken/Lexington County’s Chinquapin Creek, Florence County’s Big Swamp, Saluda County’s Upper Little Saluda River, and Dorchester’s Polk Swamp will invest in voluntary conservation actions to help provide cleaner water for their neighbors and communities. Agricultural producers in these four SC priority watersheds should submit applications by June 21, 2013.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will manage the initiative by making funds available to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the selected watersheds.

NRCS will make available nearly $35 million in financial assistance to farmers and ranchers in 165 priority watersheds this year to implement suites of conservation practices intended to improve water quality.

“These are voluntary efforts focused in small watersheds where the implementation of conservation systems can yield results for locally important waters,” said NRCS Acting Chief Jason Weller. “When farmers and ranchers work to improve water quality, they also help provide the nation with clean waterways, safe drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.”

The agency worked closely with partners, including state water quality agencies, to refine the eligible priority watersheds this year. These partners assisted in selecting one to 12 priority watersheds in every state where on-farm conservation investments will deliver the greatest water quality improvement benefits. These watershed projects will each address one or more of the following water quality concerns: excess nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment or pathogens.

Eligible producers will receive assistance under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program for installing conservation systems that may include practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, conservation cropping systems, filter strips, terraces, and in some cases, edge-of-field water quality monitoring.

Through this water quality initiative, NRCS is also piloting its new Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff. The tool will help landowners determine how alternative conservation systems they areconsidering will impact water quality improvement. Additionally, state water quality agencies and other partners will do in-stream and watershed-level monitoring to track water quality improvements in many of the project watersheds.

“The quality of our nation’s water affects so much. Across the country farmers, ranchers and foresters are actively and voluntarily using conservation systems to improve water quality,” said Weller.

NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year.

Check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in one of the four selected watersheds in South Carolina.

For more information on NWQI read here:

More Information

(Please click on map to view larger size)

Big Swamp

Big Swamp watershed small

Chinquapin Creek

Chinquapin Creek watershed small

Polk Swamp

Polk Swamp watershed small

Upper Little Saluda River

Upper little saluda river watershed small


South Carolina National Water Quality Initiative Documents

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South Carolina National Water Quality Initiative Fact Sheet 2013 (PDF; 321 KB)