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News Release

USDA NRCS Invests in Effort to Help Producers Within the Middle Republican NRD Build Drought Resilience

Jason Kennedy
(308) 345-4163 ext. 3125

McCOOK, NEB., Nov. 24, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has selected priority areas to receive funding through the WaterSMART Initiative (WSI). The Middle Republican Natural Resources District was identified as one of the priority areas. Producers located within the Middle Republican NRD sign up area have until Dec. 30, 2021, to apply for WaterSMART Initiative funding.

The goal of this initiative is to help producers better conserve water resources in coordination with water suppliers. The priority areas are part of a collaborative effort between NRCS and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to modernize existing infrastructure and otherwise build drought resilience.

The Bureau’s WaterSMART programs work with states, tribes, and local entities to increase water supply. NRCS helps farmers and ranchers voluntarily address water quantity concerns and agricultural drought. By aligning investments through the WaterSMART Initiative, NRCS aims to improve water conservation and drought resilience.

“Our farmers and ranchers are stepping up to the plate to partner with communities to gain efficiencies to better conserve our water supply,” said Jason Kennedy, NRCS, District Conservationist. “Working with the WaterSMART Initiative allows us to make a bigger impact where it’s most needed.”

The Middle Republican NRD received a WaterSMART grant from the Bureau to deploy near real-time telemetry on 1,000 irrigation flow meters in their Quick Response area. The goal is to improve on-farm water management and reporting. The Quick Response area of the district covers portions of the five counties located within the MRNRD; Frontier, Hayes, Hitchcock, Lincoln and Red Willow counties (see map).

As a recipient of the Bureau WaterSMART grant, the Middle Republican NRD was eligible to apply for NRCS EQIP WaterSMART Initiative funding. As a result of their efforts, NRCS made available $524,000 to area producers within the Middle Republican NRD’s Quick Response area.

Through this initiative, NRCS provides eligible EQIP applicants with the additional resources and tools needed to manage soil moisture, improve irrigation water use efficiency in cropland and protect irrigation water sources from depletion. Examples of eligible conservation practices include water usage efficiency improvements by converting gravity irrigation to subsurface drip or center pivots, installation of telemetry soil moisture probes and permanently converting irrigated cropland to dryland cropland.

Kennedy said that producers within the Middle Republican NRD’s Quick Response area who are interested in inquiring into applying for these EQIP funds must sign up in their local USDA NRCS Service Center by Dec. 30 to be considered for current funding. 


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