Jan 24, 2012

USDA Funds Projects Ensuring Sustainability and Quality of National Water Supply

Grants awarded to efforts in researching quality of groundwater resources, water reuse issues

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 26 grants for research, education and extension efforts that will help inform science-based decision-making on water-related issues in communities across the U.S. The grants, totaling $13.4 million, will support work to improve areas in two categories: the quality of the nation’s surface and groundwater resources in agricultural, rural and urbanizing watersheds; and critical water resource issues, including drought preparedness and water reuse.

"These research projects will help farmers, ranchers and community leaders enhance local economies and environments in agricultural and rural communities. At the same time, drought preparedness and the consideration of novel sources of water will help cities, communities and rural areas across the nation … adapt to the effects of changing climate on water quality and quantity and better understand water's role in agro-ecosystems," Merrigan said.

In the first category, 17 grants were awarded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the National Integrated Water Quality Program, which aims to solve water resource problems by advancing scientific knowledge about water quality. Funded projects also use new knowledge gained to develop and disseminate decision-making and management practices that improve the surface and groundwater quality in watersheds.

In the second category, nine grants were awarded by NIFA through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Agricultural Water Sciences foundational program. This program supports research projects and programs that address critical water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urban ecosystems. These projects reflect the need to reduce the impacts of more frequent and intense droughts and provide alternative sources of water for agricultural use.