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RCPP: Executive Summary for Raritan Basin Partners for Source Water Protection

New Jersey Water Supply Authority (NJWSA) and Hunterdon Land Trust (HLT) will partner on conservation practice implementation and easements in the South Branch Raritan River and Lockatong and Wickecheoke Creek Watersheds in New Jersey. These watersheds are important to water supply, and have documented water quality impairments and restoration recommendations.

EQIP funding will be allocated for practices that benefit water quality and soil health. NJWSA has documented experience working with landowners to implement actions to improve water resources. NJWSA will match NRCS funding for a conservation planner, and will provide additional cost-share on specific practices that benefit water quality.

Farmland preservation is a key strategy for water resource protection. HLT has proven experience working with landowners to protect agricultural land and open space and will secure additional easement funding.

Objectives:

  1. Reduce nutrient, sediment and bacteria loads from agricultural properties by installing conservation practices on 10-15 farms.
  2. Improve soil health and prevent soil erosion on agricultural properties through use of appropriate conservation practices such as cover crops and nutrient management.
  3. Increase the amount of conservation practice implementation in the target watersheds by offering additional cost-share, up to 100%, via NJWSA’s source water protection fund.
  4. Establish easements on 1-2 agricultural properties to ensure they will remain in agricultural production, thereby preventing the increased nutrient and sediment loads that could result from development of those properties and maintaining the agricultural nature of the watersheds.
  5. Document the pollutant load reductions and/or pollutant loads avoided through the implementation of conservation practices and preservation.
  6. Evaluate the impact of offering incentives, e.g. additional cost-share up to 100%, on conservation practice implementation.

The partners will leverage NJWSA’s source water protection fund, their staff and other funding with NRCS technical and financial assistance. Several other projects currently underway will complement the RCPP activities.