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National Water Quality Initiative

Picture of Pollution in NM Waterways (NWQI) Picture of sediment from agricultural fields (NWQI)
The goal of NWQI is to prevent agricultural sources
of pollution in New Mexico waterways.
Sediment from agricultural fields is one form of pollution targeted with NWQI.  Pathogens and nutrients are also addressed.



The application deadline for FY 2019 is January 18, 2019.  A second sign-up will be announced depending on the number of applications funded in the first round.


The purpose of NWQI is to work with producers and landowners to implement voluntary conservation practices that improve water quality in high-priority watersheds while maintaining agricultural productivity. NWQI is designed to help individual agricultural producers take actions to reduce the runoff of sediment, nutrients, and pathogens into waterways where water quality is a critical concern. The goal is to implement conservation practices in focused watersheds so that agriculture no longer contributes to the impairment of water bodies within these priority watersheds.

Eligible Practices

The NWQI emphasizes a “systems approach” to address priority natural resource concerns. A cornerstone of this approach is to encourage producers to implement a system of practices that has been determined to address specific high-priority resource concerns in selected watersheds and incorporate practices that address the concepts of avoiding, controlling, or trapping pollutants, or “ACT.”

An example of a practice that avoids (A) the release of pollutants is Nutrient Management.  With proper timing, placement, amount and type of fertilizer, nutrients are used by crops with little left to contribute to water quality impairment.
Examples of practices that control (C) pollutants are Diversion and Grassed Waterways that control the direction of runoff.

Examples of practices that trap (T) are Cover Crop and Filter Strip, which trap sediment and pathogens and absorb excess nutrients from runoff and soil.

Practices that are prioritized for funding are those that address these Primary Natural Resource Concerns:

 Water Quality Degradation

 Nutrients in Surface Water

 Excessive Sediment in Surface Water

 Excess Pathogens and Chemicals from Manure,
 Bio-solids or Compost Applications in Surface Water


Below are other resource concerns that have ancillary benefits associated with the primary resource concerns.

 Water Quality Degradation

 Nutrients in Groundwater

 Salts in Groundwater

 Salts in Surface Water

 Excess Pathogens and Chemicals from Manure,
 Bio-solids or Compost Applications in Groundwater

 Pesticides in Groundwater

 Pesticides in Surface Water

 Elevated Water Temperature

 Fish and Wildlife – Inadequate Habitat

 Inadequate Habitat – Water

The following document requires Adobe Acrobat.

In addition to conservation practices, the following Conservation Activity Plans are available for funding through NWQI:

 Conservation Activity Plans


 Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan


 Nutrient Management Plan


 Irrigation Water Management Plan


 Drainage Water Management Plan



Selected Watersheds

Photo map of NRCS - NM HUC 12 Watersheds8 1/2 x 11 print (PDF; 732 KB)

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

Project sites located in the watersheds below are eligible to participate in the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).  Applications will be ranked using established criteria for each watershed.  Applications are screened before ranking using the NWQI Screening Worksheet (PDF; 136 KB).

For more information on EQIP eligibility please visit: NM EQIP Eligibility

The goals of NWQI are aligned with Watershed Management Plans where they exist.  The New Mexico Environment Department has issued Watershed Plans approved by the US EPA for the lower Rio Grande (Paseo del Norte WBP) and Animas River watersheds.  NM Environment Department Watershed Based Plans

For more information on NWQI and to apply, please contact the NRCS Field Office in either Aztec or Las Cruces.

  • Aztec F.O. - (505) 334-3090
  • Las Cruces F.O. - (575) 522-8775 ext. 3

Useful Links:


Kristin Graham Chavez
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs

Kenneth Branch
Resource Conservationist for Programs

100 Sun Avenue N.E., Suite 305
Albuquerque, NM  87109
(855) 538-6003 fax