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Western water framework

Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action

There is an increasing demand for water in the West, but available water is in fast decline. Impacts of climate change, including the increasing frequency and intensity of drought, are being experienced across the West and are projected to worsen. This threatens working lands resources and agricultural productivity, while impacting whole communities who depend on the same water source.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is laying the foundation to help producers conserve water, address climate change and build drought resilience in the West through a new framework: The Western Water and Working Lands Framework for Conservation Action.

In this framework, NRCS identifies six major water and land resource management challenges, guidelines for identifying vulnerable agricultural landscapes and 13 strategies for NRCS leaders in western states to use now to collaborate with partners, water resource managers and producers. Our goal is to help secure clean and available water supplies, healthy soils, resilient landscapes and thriving agricultural communities, now and in the future.  

Read the Framework: 

Water and working lands resource management challenges resulting from threats to water supply in the West:

  1. Forecasting water supply
  2. Sustaining agricultural productivity
  3. Protecting groundwater availability
  4. Protecting surface water availability
  5. Managing and restoring rangelands and forestlands
  6. Responding to disruptions from catastrophic events


Strategies to help individuals, entities, and
communities respond to the management

  1. Improve reliability of water supply forecasts.
  2. Improve soil moisture and irrigation water management.
  3. Improve water and nutrient management in crop fields and pastures.
  4. Modernize water infrastructure.
  5. Improve community water supply by completing watershed projects.
  6. Increase reuse of wastewater for agriculture and conservation.
  7. Prolong aquifer life.
  8. Complete managed aquifer recharge projects.
  9. Reduce surface water withdrawals.
  10. Install conservation systems that protect water quality.
  11. Restore and protect streams and wetlands.
  12. Manage and restore rangelands and forestlands.
  13. Increase resilience during disaster recovery.

View the summary table to learn about the need for these strategic responses and how NRCS will help:

Western water