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News Release

NRCS Joins in Celebration of First Annual Source Water Protection Week

Protect source water qualityContact: Dave Sanden (530) 691-5847

DAVIS, Calif., Sept. 30, 2021 — In conjunction with the American Water Works Association (AWWA),  the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is excited to announce its participation in the first annual Source Water Protection Week celebrated across the nation.

AWWA launched the new Source Water Protection Week starting this year on September 26. AWWA invites water utilities, AWWA sections, states, and other partners to join in on raising awareness about the importance of protecting drinking water sources during this week.

“NRCS will be taking the opportunity to educate our customers and communities throughout the week about our practices and programs that can help to protect source water quality,” said NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez.

NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) includes a wide variety of practices that can help farmers and ranchers protect water quality and as part of a comprehensive conservation plan.  Under the 2018 Farm Bill at least 10 percent of EQIP funds are invested to protect drinking water sources. NRCS accepts EQIP applications year-round.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can also help producers to improve and maintain water quality. CSP offers payments and technical assistance to help producers maintain existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities, or enhancements. In addition, newly available in fiscal year 2021, Conservation Incentive Contracts are now an option that blends EQIP and CSP by providing financial assistance to adopt conservation activities on working landscapes.

Through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), NRCS works with partners to develop a watershed-scale plan for conservation investments to protect water quality. Watersheds can be selected for this program based on threats to drinking water sources. 

NRCS has expanded the scope of NWQI to include source water protection, including both surface and ground water public water systems, and is now a special component of NWQI. NRCS assists partners in adapting and expanding source water protection plans to identify critical source areas needing further treatment related to agricultural land uses.

“In California, we have five active NWQI watershed projects where we are working closely with partners to implement conservation practices to protect water quality,” said Suarez. “We are hoping to have our first Source Water Protection project funded under NWQI this year.”

NRCS also is developing new standards and EQIP procedures to help irrigation districts and producers address Groundwater Overdraft in their areas. “NRCS plans to provide incentives for recharging aquifers using Managed Aquifer Recharge or dedicated recharge basins,” Suarez said.

Source Water Protection Week will be observed nationwide from September 26 – October 2 and will educate and engage the public on actions that help protect and improve drinking water sources.

-NRCS-