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News Release

NRCS Seeks Proposals for Water Quality Market Projects

Wade Biddix
(804) 287-1675

Richmond, January 13, 2012 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is now seeking proposals for Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) projects focused on water quality credit trading. Project proposals must be submitted by March 2, 2012 to be eligible for up to $10 million in funding, half of which will be awarded in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. 

“This market-based approach is a cost-effective way to reduce pollutants, and has the potential to engage more farmers in water quality improvements on agricultural land,” says NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker. “Producers who implement and maintain associated conservation practices could reduce their costs by generating credits that could be sold in an open market.”

NRCS requests CIG proposals for projects that:

  • Support the completion of state water quality market rules and infrastructure needed to carry out water quality trading between point and non-point sources;
  • Deploy and test tools and metrics needed for crediting and verifying the effectiveness of conservation practices on agricultural lands;
  • Establish certification, registry and reporting systems; and
  • Educate and reach out to agriculture and other sectors.

Eligible applicants include federally recognized Indian Tribes, State or local governments or non-governmental organizations, and private individuals. CIG funds will be awarded through a competitive grants process. At least 50 percent of the total project costs must come from non-Federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient. Projects must involve producers who are eligible for the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The Chesapeake Bay portion of this effort is part of NRCS’ Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, which helps agricultural producers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia to improve Bay water quality. 

Prospective applicants are invited to join a NRCS webinar at 3 p.m. EST on January 24th to learn more about program goals and ask questions of USDA officials and staff.  Details are available on the CIG website

To apply electronically, visit or contact a local NRCS office. View the complete Announcement of Program Funding.  For more information about NRCS conservation programs, visit or visit your local USDA service center.