The EQIP National Water Quality Initiative will assist producers to address high-priority water resource concerns in watersheds identified as impaired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This initiative will utilize a special EQIP funding allocation to accelerate efforts to improve water quality in three 12-digit watersheds with streams designated by the EPA for the Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of impaired waters.
This EQIP NWQI provides a separate funding pool, specific set of eligible core and supporting conservation practices and separate ranking criteria for eligible producers with land located in one of the priority watersheds.
NWQI was established in FY12 as an initiative delivered jointly with State water quality agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address agricultural sources of water pollution, specifically nutrients, sediment, and pathogens in priority watersheds throughout the country. Each year, State Conservationists consult with State water quality agencies and partners to evaluate the status of NWQI watersheds, and propose to add or withdraw watersheds based on NWQI criteria, State priorities, and regional conservationists’ approval.
In FY17, NRCS piloted an approach to evaluate changes to NWQI that could increase the potential for success in achieving water quality improvement by strengthening the standards for watershed assessment required for inclusion in NWQI and by providing support for achieving these standards. Based on the pilot’s outcomes, NWQI in FY18 included watersheds selected for a “readiness phase” as well as an implementation phase.
State Conservationists were asked to propose watersheds for readiness phase activities in FY19. The readiness phase will provide a minimum 1-year period for watershed-level assessment, on-farm planning, and outreach before allocations of financial assistance in future years. The purpose of the readiness project is to assist in a planning and assessment phase (readiness phase) for the identified target watersheds. This phase will include a watershed-level assessment, on-farm planning, and outreach to support development of the project proposal that will assist States with their nutrient loss reduction strategies.
Blue-Sinking watershed Readiness Project: Washington County SWCD is the lead partner on this project and covers the following 12-digit watersheds: 05101040701; 051401040702; 051401040703; 051401040704; 05140104076; 051401040601; 051401040602; 051401040603; 051401040604; 051401040605; 0514041040606
NWQI Monitoring Projects
Eagle Creek Watershed located in Hendricks, Marion and Boone County and covering the School Branch subwatershed.
NRCS identified priority watersheds through the help of local partnerships and state water quality agencies. Partners sometimes offer financial assistance in addition to NRCS programs. NRCS will continue to coordinate with local and state agencies, conservation districts, nongovernmental organizations and others to implement this initiative. This strategic approach will leverage funds and provide streamlined assistance to help individual agricultural producers take needed actions to reduce the flow of sediment, nutrients and other runoff into impaired waterways.
Water quality conservation practices benefit agricultural producers by lowering input costs and enhancing the productivity of working lands. Conservation investments are good for all Americans because well managed farms limit pollution from runoff, produce food and fiber, sustain rural economies, and provide food security to the Nation. All across the country— farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are voluntarily taking action and putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality on millions of acres!
NRCS is proud to be involved in a nationwide effort with landowners and communities to improve and protect our water resources. The landowners and farmers participating in the initiative will receive conservation payments to work on the land in a sustainable way which provides cleaner water. In addition to the financial assistance, the land will remain productive into the future. Communities benefit by having clean waterways, safer drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife.
How to Apply
To get started, make an appointment at your local office. You will need to establish eligibility and farm records for your land. NRCS will help you complete an application while explaining which conservation practices are available in your watershed. Remember to check with your local NRCS office to see if you are located in a priority watershed.