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Watershed Grand Forks

National Water Quality Initiative - Idaho

As USDA’s premiere water quality initiative, National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) provides a way to accelerate voluntary, on-farm conservation investments and focused water quality monitoring and assessment resources where they can deliver the greatest benefits for clean water.

The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) was designed to help individual agricultural producers take actions to reduce the runoff of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens into surface waters where water quality is a critical concern. NWQI is an initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) incentivizes conservation practices that improve water quality and quantity by offering a higher payment rate on selected practices than general EQIP, up to 90% on selected practices.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill NRCS expanded the scope of NWQI to include source water protection, including both surface and ground water quality and quantity of public water systems, known as Source Water Protection Areas (SWPA). 

The NRCS State Conservationist in Idaho accepts proposals for National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) watershed activities annually, typically due in the summer. The proposals can be for implementation or planning activities under NWQI, Source Water Protection Area (SWPA), or both. Selected watersheds and/or SWPAs, will receive specific federal funds for conservation implementation or planning activities.

The Planning Phase offers technical assistance funds to support the development of a watershed assessment plan at the sub-watershed scale. NWQI watershed activities are guided by this multi-year implementation plan that document annual targets for conservation activity directed at solving the critical source of an impaired waterbody or SWPA.

Once the plan is complete it is proposed to the State Conservationist for approval and onto National Headquarters for approval. If the plan is approved, it then moves into the Implementation Phase and funding is allocated for the implementation of conservation practices supporting water quality and water conservation. Below are the current Planning and Implementation Phase sub-watersheds in Idaho:

Idaho National Water Quality Initiative Map

Proposals where local NRCS and partners work together to set joint goals and outline their shared implementation or planning plan will have the highest consideration through the watershed selection process. This includes proposals that provide proof of producer willingness and readiness to adopt needed conservation activities, aligned with local (NRCS & Partners) capacity to provide technical assistance for implementation.

Proposals should be submitted to the State Water Quality Specialist, Maureen Pepper, at The Water Subcommittee of the Idaho State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) will review and select proposals, utilizing the  Watershed Selection Criteria . The Subcommittee will then make recommendations to the Idaho STAC and State Conservationist on which proposals to submit to the National review board for final selection.

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Contact for Idaho

Maureen Pepper
State Water Quality Specialist
Phone: (208) 378-5723

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

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How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm number.

If you don’t have a farm number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.