National Water Quality Initiative
Rio Grande de Añasco, PR
Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is continuing to offer financial and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in improving water quality and aquatic habitats in priority watersheds with impaired streams. NRCS will help producers implement conservation and management practice
s through a systems approach to control and trap nutrient and manure runoff. Qualified producers will receive assistance for installing conservation practices such as cover crops, filter strips and terraces. For over 75 years, NRCS has provided agricultural producers with assistance to implement voluntary conservation practices that protect natural resources while maintaining production and profits. The cut-off date to apply for this year's NWQI funding has been extended to July 12, 2013.
Caribbean Area Priority Watershed: Rio Grande de Añasco
The Rio Grande de Añasco is one of the primary rivers discharging into Mayagüez Bay and drains one of the largest watersheds in Puerto Rico. The Añasco watershed covers an area of 257 square miles and includes portions of Añasco, Mayagüez, Las Marías, Maricao, San Sebastián, Lares, Yauco, and Adjuntas municipalities. The watershed is ranked # 5 on the list of impaired watersheds in the Puerto Rico Unified Watershed Assessment, due primarily to sediment, bacterial and chemical contamination (low dissolved oxygen, high arsenic and turbidity). Many of these pollutants are directly related to agricultural sources such as fertilizers, pesticides and manure from crop and pasture lands.
NRCS has identified sheet and rill erosion, water quality and quantity, plant health, flooding and invasive species as the primary resource concerns in the Añasco watershed that will be addressed through this initiative.
Conservation Funding and Practices
NRCS conservation professionals will provide technical assistance and planning tools to determine which conservation actions will provide the best results to improve water quality on your land. Nutrient management systems, erosion control, conservation tillage, pest management, and buffers systems are just some of the practices being offered as part of the National Water Quality Initiative. To help install these conservation practices, financial assistance to share in the cost of these conservation practices is available though the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
NRCS identified priority watersheds through the help of local partnerships and state water quality agencies. Partners sometimes offer financial assistance in addition to NRCS programs. NRCS will continue to coordinate with local and state agencies, conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations and others to implement this initiative. This strategic approach will leverage funds and provide streamlined assistance to help individual agricultural producers take needed actions to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other runoff into impaired waterways.
Water quality conservation practices benefit agricultural producers by lowering input costs and enhancing the productivity of working lands. Conservation investments are good for all Americans because well managed farms limit pollution from runoff, produce food and fiber, sustain rural economies, and provide food security to the Nation. All across the country— farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are voluntarily taking action and putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality on millions of acres!
NRCS is proud to be involved in a nationwide effort with landowners and communities to improve and protect our water resources. The landowners and farmers participating in the initiative will receive conservation payments to work on the land in a sustainable way which provides cleaner water. In addition to the financial assistance, the land will remain productive into the future. Communities benefit by having clean waterways, safer drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.
How to Apply
To get started, make an appointment at the Mayagüez Field Office. You will need to establish eligibility and farm records for your land. NRCS will help you complete an application while explaining which conservation practices are available in your watershed. Remember to check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a selected watershed. All applications for funding consideration during fiscal year 2013 must be received by July 12, 2013.
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