The bill includes storm water runoff control and drinking water protection measures
Congress approved the $867 million 2018 Farm Bill with bipartisan support. The bill has been applauded by environmental groups for its water conservation and drinking water protection practices such as cover crops and streamside buffers. According to The Washington Post, the bill was approved in a 386-27 vote in the House of Representatives Dec. 12.
The final bill, which awaits the signature of President Donald J. Trump, increases funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and includes provisions for prioritizing drinking water protection projects, as reported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
“This farm bill includes important reforms that will better leverage conservation funding to protect sources of drinking water and reduce harmful toxic algae blooms,” said Scott Faber, EWG vice president of government affairs. “In particular, crop insurance and conservation provision in the final bill will encourage farmers to adopt proven drinking water protection practices like cover crops and streamside buffers.”
It also establishes a new Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers, or CLEAR, Initiative that will target drinking water protection, specifically toxic algae blooms. The final bill also includes reforms to the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program, which stress erosion control measures such as crop rotation, buffers and cover crops. Finally, the bill makes emerging contaminants per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) a priority for U.S. Department of Agriculture rural water utility programs.
“The conservation and partnership language in the Farm Bill makes critical strides in acknowledging and encouraging the collaborative work between municipal clean water utilities and agricultural partners to address water quality challenges through holistic watershed approaches that can provide the most effective and cost-efficient water quality improvements,” said Adam Krantz, the National Assn. of Clean Water Agencies CEO.